Thursday, February 26, 2015

MultiChoice increases DStv subscription fees from 1 April 2015: Here's what you'll be paying per month this year.


MultiChoice has announced its annual price increases for DStv which will come into effect from 1 April, with DStv Premium which will now be costing R699 per month from April and M-Net subscribers who will be paying R335 per month.

MultiChoice published the new April 2015 prices on its website today, 26 February, a day after finance minister Nhlanhla Nene revealed in his budget speech that South Africans in the coming year will have to get read for tougher times.

South African consumers will be paying more in personal tax as well as for fuel, electricity, alcoholic beverages and tobacco products and also for subscription television services.

From 1 April 2015:
DStv Premium will cost R699 (from R665)
DStv Extra will cost R425 (from R399)
DStv Compact will cost R319 (from R295)
DStv Select will cost R199 (from R185)
DStv Family will cost R199 (from R185)
DStv Access will cost R99 (unchanged)
DStv EasyView will cost R39 (from R29)
DStv Mobile will cost R49
M-Net as a stand-alone analogue service will cost R335 per month (from R315).

In 2014 MultiChoice made no change to the monthly subscription fees of DStv Access and is again keeping that price unchanged for a second year in a row.

DStv EasyView which also didn't see a price increase in 2014 from 2013 is however increasing in 2015 with R10 per month from R29 to R39.

Despite tougher economic times and with pay-TV deemed a luxury expense as part of discretionary spending, South Africa's pay-TV market remains buoyant with strong ongoing subscriber growth the past few years.

There's been no press statement from MultiChoice yet.

The end of 'M-Net Series' on DStv after 17 years: M-Net gets ready to name change M-Net Series Zone as the last remaining M-Net Series channel.

You're reading it here first. 

M-Net will finally do away with, and end the "M-Net Series" brand after 17 years on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

M-Net started The Series Channel in April 1998 on DStv, which morphed a decade later in 2008 into The M-Net Series channel.

The M-Net Series channel was split into three channels in July 2013 - M-Net Series Showcase, M-Net Series Reality and M-Net Series Zone.

The floundering ratings and under-performance of the channels saw M-Net Series Showcase and M-Net Series Reality closed down just over a year later in September 2014.

M-Net Edge was started on DStv, leaving M-Net Series Zone (DStv 115) as the sole M-Net Series channel.

In January 2015 when asked whether M-Net Series Zone on DStv will be undergoing a name change - since there's no longer a need for the very long "M-Net Series Zone" qualifier and TV channels prefer as short names as possible from a branding and optics point of view - several M-Net insiders told TV with Thinus that a name change was indeed being considered. 

Now insiders said M-Net Series Zone as the last permutation of a "M-Net Series" channel will be rebranded and name changed. 

The channel and its channel proposition as a catch-up destination for shows on MultiChoice's DStv will remain, but under a new name. 

It means the end of "M-Net Series" as part of a TV channel name and several channel logo and branding permutations on DStv after 17 years.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

2015's 9th Saftas nominees announcement sees voters vote dropped for best soap and best TV presenter categories added.


The announcement Tuesday night of the 9th South African Film and Television Awards (Saftas) was once again an amateur affair, with the SABC's soap Generations on SABC1 - like with the 2015 Royalty Soapie Awards - shut out since it went off air in 2014.

In a major departure the Saftas are dumping the viewers' vote for best soapie. The Saftas judges now shortlist the nominees in the best soap category and will choose either Binnelanders (kykNET), Rhythm City (e.tv) or Isibaya (Mzansi Magic) as the winner in the category.

Instead the NFVF and Saftas have adding several TV presenters categories. The Saftas' various film categories are a convoluted mess.

The National Film and Video Foundation (NFVF) announced the list of nominees for the 2015 Saftas on Tuesday night at Atlas Studios in Johannesburg but NFVF CEO and Saftas chairperson Zama Mkosi didn't attend - she was in Brazil at the Rio content market.

The Saftas will this year take place on 20 and 22 March at Gallagher Estate in Midrand.

The Saftas aim to honour the excellence of the South African film and TV industry with Golden Horn trophies but every year the local TV awards ceremony is marred by a botched in memoriam segment which leaves out notable people the industry lost in the previous year, as well as a litany of mistakes and shoddy production values that make viewers and the industry cringe in embarrassment.

Like with the 2015 Royalty Soapie Awards SABC1's Generations - The Legacy has been shut out.

According to the Saftas "Generations did not participate partly due to the soapie being off television screens for a considerable amount of time".

Mzansi Magic's Isibaya, SABC3's Isidingo, SABC1's Skeem Saam and SABC2's 7de Laan received the most nominations.

The Saftas has added a best presenters categories with people like Bonang Matheba, Lungile Radu, Phat Joe, Thembi Seete, eNCA's Jeremy Maggs and several others being nominated in various categories.

Best TV dramas nominees are Swartwater (SABC2), 90 Plein Street (SABC2) and Donkerland (kykNET).

Best TV comedy nominees are StarSat's ZA News: Puppet Nation, Check Coast and Lastborn Does the Loeries.

Best reality show nominees are the cancelled Kabelo Boot Camp (Mzansi Magic), Ultimate Braai Master (e.tv) and I Want to Sing Gospel (SABC2).

Best film nominees are Inumber Number, Faan se Trein and Four Corners.

The Saftas awards show will once again be produced by Clive Morris Productions.

BREAKING. eNews anchor Pat Pillai dumps eNews as e.tv moves its English TV news bulletin out of primetime to a late night audience.


The longtime eNews Prime Time anchor Pat Pillai has dumped eNews as e.tv is moving its popular English language out of prime time to make way for a new Zulu TV news bulletin and moving its English news broadcast to a late night audience.

e.tv confirmed that Pat Pillai has resigned after a decade at e.tv. Pat Pillai in a statement says "I will miss the people I've worked with and the viewers who tuned in regularly."

Pat Pillai will read his final eNews bulletin on e.tv on Thursday 26 February at 19:00.

From Monday 2 March the eNews Prime Time news bulletin - what used to be South Africa's most watched English language TV news bulletin - is moved an hour and a half later to 20:30 to make way for eNews Izindaba at 18:30 and the soap Rhythm City moving to 19:00.

e.tv says the later English news will now "cater for a later evening news audience".

With its prime time schedule shift e.tv is aggressively going after SABC viewers and Zulu TV news viewers not getting what they want to see from the public broadcaster.

Pat Pillai now wants to "focus more on his youth development work at Life College, an organisation he founded in 1997".

"Pat Pillai has played an enormous role at eNews over the past 10 years," says Patrick Conroy, who is now the managing director of e.sat.

"He has helped us turn our nightly newscast into the most watched English news bulletin in the country," says Patrick Controy, saying Pat Pillai "remains a close friend of all of us at eNews".

E! Entertainment's racist Giuliana Rancic sorry for remarks over Zendaya's deadlocks; Kelly Osbourne threatens to quit Fashion Police.




E! Entertainment’s (DStv 124) E! News anchor and Fashion Police panelist Giuliana Rancic is apologising for her racist comments after saying the 18-year old actress Zendaya's dreadlocked hair at the Oscars "probaly smells like patchouli oil or weed", now saying "something I said last night did cross the line".

On Tuesday night's E! News, Giuliana Rancic who always does red carpet duty for E! and wants celebrities to trust her enough to talk to her, apologised.

"I want to apologize for a comment I made on last night's Fashion Police about Zendaya's hair," said Giuliana Rancic.

"As you know, Fashion Police is a show that pokes fun at celebrities in good spirit, but I do understand that something I said last night did cross the line. I just want everyone to know, I didn't intend to hurt anybody."

"But I've learned it's not my intent that matters, it's the result, and the result is that people are offended, including Zendaya, and that is not okay. Therefore, I want to say to Zendaya, and anyone else out there that I have hurt, that I am so, so sincerely sorry. This really has been a learning experience for me."

Kelly wants to quit
Meanwhile Fashion Police panelist Kelly Osbourne has threatened to quit the struggling fashion commenting show on E! Entertainment which has derailed in tone and enjoyment since the death of Joan Rivers and the addition of Kathy Griffin and Brad Goreski.

"I'm seriously questioning staying on the show," said Kelly Osbourne on Twitter, noting that she gave "everyone involved 24 hours to make it right or the world will hear how I really feel. Contractually I’m not allowed to speak!"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Al Jazeera's Mohamed Fahmy slams Al Jazeera for what the journalist calls 'epic negligence'; says Al Jazeera left him unprotected.

Mohamed Fahmy, the Al Jazeera (DStv 406 / StarSat 257) journalist and former Egyptian cellmate of the released d Al Jazeera journalist Peter Greste is slamming Al Jazeera for what he calls "epic negligence" and says Al Jazeera left him and his Egyptian-based colleagues unprotected.

Mohamed Fahmy, who is also a former CNN producer and awaiting a retrial after more than a year in an Egyptian prison, told the Associated Press that Al Jazeera had its own political news agenda during the reign of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood.

Mohamed Fahmy and Baher Mohamed, an Egyptian, were jailed in June 2014 and were due back in Egytian court today, after the release last month of Peter Greste, but the case was adjourned to 8 March.

Mohamed Fahmy told Sky News (DStv 402) today that "Al Jazeera's shortcomings and the way they dealt with our security situation before our arrest and the epic negligence that they portrayed during the trial has also given the prosecution more firepower, basically."

Mohamed Fahmy said he raised these issues "constructively" through Al Jazeera "hoping that they would respond, and I hope they do".

No statement on any of this from Al Jazeera.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

The 87th Academy Awards: 2015 Oscars coverage on M-Net, E!, CNN International, FOX News; Facebook; ceremony on M-Net Movies Premiere.


The 87th Academy Awards with host Neil Patrick Harris will be broadcast in South Africa on M-Net , with red carpet coverage leading up to the 2015 Oscars broadcast on E! Entertainment (DStv 124).

For the first time in a few years M-Net has also secured the official red carpet coverage run-up to the Oscars again, which is usually done as an additional add-on package by whatever American broadcaster which has the broadcasting rights to the awards show. 

This year it's ABC with the 2015 Oscars official red carpet arrivals show, called Oscars Opening Ceremony: Live From the Red Carpet starting on M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 103) at 00:00 until 02:00, followed by Oscars Red Carpet Live from 02:00 to 03:46.

The presenters are Robin Roberts, Lara Spencer and Michael Strahan.

CNN International (DStv 401) also has an 2015 Oscars special entitled And the Winner Is... presented by Don Lemon from 01:30 until 02:00 from inside Hollywood's Roosevelt Hotel.

FOX News Channel (StarSat 261) also has 2015 Oscars coverage starting at 03:00 on Monday morning with entertainment correspondent Michael Tammero.

E! Entertainment will be doing the usual red carpet coverage with Live From the Red Carpet: The 2015 Academy Awards starting at 00:30 (South African time) on Sunday night until 03:30 Monday morning. 

Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic will present from the red carpet.

E!'s 2015 Oscars coverage will be repeated on Monday at 11:00 and 18:00.


The 87th Academy Awards will start at 03:46 until around 07:15 on Monday morning on M-Net Movies Premiere. It will then be shown, packaged, Monday night on M-Net (DStv 101) from 19:31 to 23:00.

Viewers will be able to watch what happens behind the scenes at the 87th Academy Awards through a "Director's Cut" live feed streamed on Facebook.

Three channels of live video feeds from over 20 cameras throughout the Dolby Theater will be streamed on www.facebook.com/oscars.

Video clips of the most memorable moments of the awards show – including all musical performances – will be posted almost immediately after they air to oscar.com/video, with a selection of those also being shared on the Oscar's Facebook page.

E! Entertainment has another special episode of Fashion Police on Wednesday, 25 February at 22:00 with Kathy Griffin, Brad Goreski, Kelly Osbourne and Giuliana Rancic to look back at the 2015 Oscars fashion hits and misses.

Friday, February 20, 2015

BREAKING. Royalty Soapie Awards 2015 announces nominees; SABC1's Generations and kykNET's Binnelanders shut out.


Nominees for the second Royalty Soapie Awards, set to take place on Saturday 28 March in Durban, was announced on Thursday evening in Johannesburg with Mzansi Magic's (DStv 161) Isibaya and e.tv's Scandal! leading the charge with 16 nominations each, followed by SABC2's 7de Laan with 14 nominations.

Notable changes include Mzansi Magic coming aboard as a sponsor this year of the Royalty Soapie Awards 2015 which has largely shut out SABC1's Generations, e.tv which removed both it's soaps last year allowing its soaps Rhythm City and Scandal! to take part, and bigger public voting paticipation with viewers who will get to have a say in the winner of several categories.

Generations on SABC1 which used to be South Africa's biggest and most watched soap in terms of ratings before its massive fall from grace as well in the ratings and now called Generations - The Legacy - was largely shut out in the nominations.

e.tv also allowed its Rhythm City and Scandal! to take part this year.

"After having numerous meetings with the organisers, we emerged with  a better sense of the objectives of the awards," said Monde Twala, e.tv's head of channels. "e.tv has two of the most loved soaps with talented casts, who deserve  recognition for their performance".

SABC2's Venda soap Muvhango only scored one nomination, with kykNET's (DStv 144) Afrikaans soap Binnelanders completely absent and shut out from this year's Royalty Soapie Awards although Villa Rosa is included.

This year viewers will get to vote for the winner in several categories in the Royalty Soapie Awards which include Outstanding Lead Actor, Outstanding Lead Actress, Outstanding Male Villain, Outstanding Female Villain, Outstanding Supporting Actor, Outstanding Supporting Actress, Outstanding Newcomer and Most Popular Soapie.

Notably no Generations or Binnelanders stars are included as nominees in any of these categories.

The nominee with the highest number of votes in each category will be the winner. Viewers can vote from 19 February to 20 March.

"The Royalty Soapie Awards hold a mirror to the industry, revealing the status of the sector on screen and behind the scenes, and they provide much to reflect upon," says Sindile Xulu, project director.

"The final outcomes will reflect industry sentiment and benefit all by encouraging healthy competition and ultimately assisting in growing the quality of our productions," says Sindile Xulu.

"Any awards ceremony is a good thing for the industry, Vinette Ebrahim from SABC2's 7de Laan, nominated in the category for Outstanding Lead Actress, told TV with Thinus on Thursday.

"Something like the Royalty Soapie Awards is important for the platform it creates to recognise the work of actors and technical people working in the industry. It gives recognition to people for their hard work," said Theodore Jantjies from SABC2's 7de Laan, nominated in the category for Outstanding Lead Actor.

"Actors always appreciate these kinds of awards because in showbiz we work at a tremendous pace, so you don't get time to think about it. So its a moment to stop and reflect and for crews and casts to get some recognition. So I'm thankful for the Royalty Soapie Awards for bringing some extra spice," said Izak Davel from SABC3's Isidingo, nominated in the category for Outstanding Newcomer.

"We have so many soapies and telenovelas now. The more serious the industry takes itself as a specific genre, then that actually unfolds in the creation of more shows. In South Africa the soapie genre is our Hollywood, and its time that it gets its recognition," said Kgomotso Christopher from SABC3's Isidingo, nominated in the category for Outstanding Lead Actress.

"Our soapie stars are the A-list stars and it is about time that they had a platform for themselves to be recognised and not to be diluted within the larger industry."

The nominees for the 2015 Royalty Soapie Awards for which viewers can vote, are:

Outstanding Lead Actor
Motlatsi Mafatshe as Sechaba in Isidingo
Siyabonga Thwala as Mpiyakhe in Isibaya
Theodore Jantjies as Xander in 7de Laan
Vusi Kunene as Jefferson in Isidingo
Zane Meas as Neville in 7de Laan

Outstanding Lead Actress
Kgomotso Christopher as Katlego in Isidingo
Marjorie Langa as Gloria in Scandal!
Masasa Mbangeni as Thembeka in Scandal!
Thembi Nyandeni as Mkabayi in Isibaya
Vinette Ebrahim as Charmaine in 7de Laan

Outstanding Male Villain
Andre Lotter as Liam in Villa Rosa
Robert Whitehead as Barker in Isidingo
Sello Maake ka-Ncube as Lucas in Scandal!
Vusi Kunene as Bhekifa in Isibaya
Wilhelm van der Walt as Tyrone in 7de Laan

Outstanding Female Villain
Dawn Matthews as Shakira in Scandal!
Jo da Silva as Gita in 7de Laan
Mampho Brescia as Iris in Isibaya
Therese Benade as Astrid in Villa Rosa

Outstanding Supporting Actor
Andile Sithole as Ndumiso in Scandal!
Bongani Gumede as Mandla in Isibaya
Jody Abrahams as Marcel in Scandal!
Kaz McFadden as Dewald in 7de Laan
Zakhele Mabasa as S'khaleni in Isibaya

Outstanding Supporting Actress
Dorette Potgieter as Wanda in Villa Rosa
Mampho Brescia as Iris in Isibaya
Mapaseka Koetle as Dintle in Scandal!
Natasha Sutherland as Layla in Scandal!
Nomzamo Mbatha as Thandeka in Isibaya

Outstanding Newcomer
Andile Gumbi as Zweli in Isibaya
Buhle Samuels as Matshidiso in Muvhango
Fulu Mugovhani as Anzani in Scandal!
Izak Davel as Bradley in Isidingo
Tessa Holloway as Sonja in 7de Laan

Thursday, February 19, 2015

SHOCKER. M-Net shutting down Maisha Magic channel on MultiChoice's DStv mere months after launching; what's going on with M-Net?


What on Earth is going on with M-Net, and is the sterling pay-TV brand starting to self-destruct and destroying its own image in Africa? That's what insiders are asking with the shocking news that M-Net is immediately shutting down its recently launched Maisha Magic channel on MultiChoice's DStv in East Africa.

TV industry insiders are buzzing over M-Net's abrupt about-turn - launching Maisha Magic as a TV channel on DStv and then canning it - raising speculation about very bad executive management appointments, absent oversight and a lack of adequate - if any - channel testing, planning and feasibility studies.

"You expect this from other African free-to-air [broadcasters] but not M-Net. What on Earth is going on?" said a veteran African TV business insider on Thursday night over the shocking news that M-Net is ending Maisha Magic on DStv mere months after it launched the channel with great fanfare.

"You don't just launch a channel - especially not on MultiChoice and then yank it. It's like opening a hotel, paying for the construction and turn-key set-up and then closing it down without any profit".

M-Net is dumping Maisha Magic in East Africa as a TV channel, raising concerns over what is happening - or not happening - under the management of Michael Ndetei who was appointed as M-Net's first ever regional director for East Africa exactly a year ago in February 2014.

M-Net says "an in-depth assessement of each of the channel's viability was concluded, including a review of the rankings and popularity of the channels" and that "a decision was taken to close Maisha Magic and refocus on Maisha Magic Swahili".

M-Net is dumping and getting rid of Maisha Magic on DStv abruptly at the end of March - raising serious concerns of what, if any, "in-depth assessement M-Net did before it decided to launch Maisha Magic with great fanfare from 1 September 2014.

Six months later, Maisha Magic is a disastrous M-Net failure - an unprecedented flop in the history of M-Net, bigger than GO and The Soap Channel which M-Net supplied to DStv and which were both terminated.

"Unfortunately Maisha Magic has not performed and grown as per our expectations." says M-Net CEO for Sub-Sahara Africa, Patricia van Rooyen.

Patricia van Rooyen says M-Net decided to can Maisha Magic saying M-Net made "the carefully considered but difficult decision to cease operations of the channel".

It gives Maisha Magic the dubious and shocking distinction of holding the record of shortest-lived TV channel ever on MultiChoice's DStv, and the M-Net packaged TV channel for DStv which lasted the shortest period of time - just 6 months.

It raises serious questions over why M-Net decided to launch the failure of a TV venture in the first place, why adequate market research and channel creation steps were not taken and what market research and intelligence M-Net is using - if any - to come up with new TV channels for DStv subscribers across the continent. 

M-Net says its "grateful" to Michael Ndetei and some of the most talented and creative people in the Kenyan media industry" but the Maisha Magic closure is flashing red lights over what exactly M-Net is doing in East Africa and whether its lost its magic.

"M-Net remains firmly committed to the Kenyan market and will ensure that it continues to support film makers by showcasing their talent on other M-Net channels."

"The film and television industry in Kenya will continue to be supported by M-Net's investment in channels made in Africa for Africa, thus ensuring that we assist Kenya in playing a role in the growth and future of African television and film on the continent," says M-Net.

Yet the shocking real-life actions are speaking much, much louder than words.

In 2014 Michaerl Ndetei said "there's definitely great potential for a customised East Africa television brand". Well, it seems that Michael Ndetei spoke too soon - or at least too soon as far as M-Net is concerned and is either clearly out of touch or not up to the job.

Either in reality there isn't great potential in general in the market for what M-Net offered, or there isn't an appetite  for subscribers to specifically M-Net's East African product.

The abrupt dumping of Maisha Magic means that nothing will come of M-Net lofty ideals and now lofty 2014 announcement that Maisha Magic will be followed by many more Maisha Magic branded TV channels in East Africa in the future.

With M-Net dumping Maisha Magic on MultiChoice, is not clear whether it's completely capitulated and given up on the red-hot Swahili market in East Africa where rivals like Zuku started Zuku Swahili Movies as a new channel in 2014, and StarTimes run channels like Star Swahili and Bollywood Swahili.

How will M-Net subscribers trust M-Net again when it again in future says its launching yet another Swahili or other M-Net type brand in East Africa? People won't trust it to last. What they will do is laugh it off. 

Like Mello Yello, Vanilla Coke and Fresca. 

All of them remembered - but laughed at - as shocking brand extension failures of their main brands which never should have happened. Add Maisha Magic to that list.

Writers' Guild of South Africa announces WGSA Muse Awards 2014/2015 nominees, adds M-Net as sponsor.


The 2nd WGSA Muse Awards 2014/2015 ,organised by the Writers' Guild of South Africa (WGSA), has announced its nominees for the awards ceremony set to take place late in April and has added M-Net as a sponsor.

The WGSA Muse Awards 2014/2015 will once again recognise writers in film, television, radio, stage and new media for their contribution to South African entertainment industry.

"A substantial number of entries were received for the WGSA Muse Awards and we would like to thank all the writers who submitted their scripts for consideration," says Harriet Meier, WGSA chairperson. 

"The top three scripts reaching or surpassing the standard set by the minimum judging criteria will make up the nominees. These screenplays will proceed to the next phase, where the winners will be selected by a new set of judges, which include big name international writers, agents and Writers' Guild representatives from around the world," says Harriet Meier.

M-Net has come aboard as the headline sponsor for the awards event.

"For the past 29 years, M-Net has remained a proud sponsor of local arts and culture initiatives. This event confirms our belief in the very important and often undervalued role which writers in various disciplines play in South Africa," says Kershnee Govender, M-Net's corporate affairs director.

"These writers bring the many diverse stories of our multi-faceted society to life, in so doing enriching the lives and cultural fabric of all who come into contact with their work."

The nominees for the WGSA Muse Awards 2014/15 are:


Animation: 1) Tracy Eccles: Wheelin’

Documentary: 1) David Forbes:  The Cradock Four
2) Meg Richards:  1994:  The Bloody Miracle
3) Peter Goldsmid:  Dance Up From The Street


TV Comedy / Sitcom: 1) Fidel Namisi: Call Centre
2) Joshua Rous: By the Numbers


TV Drama: 1) Amor Tredoux:  Danz! Episode 6
2) Marina Bekker:  Thola Episode 1
3) Shirley Johnston: Traffic:  Episode 25


TV Drama: 1) Amor Tredoux:  Danz! Episode 6
2) Marina Bekker:  Thola Episode 1
3) Shirley Johnston: Traffic:  Episode 25


Stage Play: 1)  Janet van Eeden: A Matter of Time
2) Janet van Eeden: In-Gene-Uity
3) Janet van Eeden: The Savage Sisters


Spec Script: 1) Fidel Namisi:  Bring Back Lost Lover
2) Hanneke Schutte: Meerkat Moonship
3) Zamo Mkhwanazi: The Good Doctor

No nominations were made for Radio Plays, and the over 100 Feature Film entries received were all for unproduced screenplays.

The WGSA organisers decideed to dedicate the Spec Script in Any Genre category this year solely to feature films, and to include unproduced work in other genres in their own genre categories.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cape Town chef Neill Anthony cooking up exclusive dinner extravaganzas in new cooking show starting on SABC3 from 15 March.


Neill Anthony - The Private Chef will start on SABC3 as a brand-new 13-part lifestyle series from Sunday 15 March at 16:30, with the new show produced by Okuhle Media, which will give viewers a glimpse into the high-pressured world of what it takes to cater to South Africa's high society and A-list socialites.

Neill Anthony - The Private Chef is a joint venture production between chef Neill Anthony who spent 10 years in Europe honing his skills in the professional kitchens of Gordon Ramsay, Alyn Williams, Jerome Henry and Marcus Waering.

Back in Cape Town Neill Anthony became a personal chef, dishing up Michelin-star quality food for his demanding clientele in their homes who wants their end-of-the-month Salticrax with a bit of caviar and a splash of champagne. Please.

Neill Anthony - The Private Chef will also be sold to overseas broadcasters says Louise McClelland, executive producer.


Neill Anthony - The Private Chef, with director Chris Lotz, will give viewers a peek into the homes of Neill Anthony's clients and socialite friends as he takes on and prepares exclusive dining experiences.

Every half hour episode starts in Neill Anthony's contemporary lift apartment in the heart of Cape Town, before he heads out to source fresh ingredients for the day's event and shares cooking tips and sourcing secrets with viewers.

"Food is what I do. Keeping it local, seasonal and rustic," says Neill Anthony. "I'm thrilled to be working with Okuhle Media on my first TV show".

After a decade Syfy is finally returning to MultiChoice's DStv - but so far there's a catch to the genre channel's comeback.


Imagine this: After exactly a decade MultiChoice is finally returning the dumped Syfy channel to its DStv satellite pay-TV platform - but apparently only in the rest of Africa and not for DStv subscribers in South Africa. Yet.

The Syfy channel supplied by Universal Networks International (UNI) will be added back to DStv for the first time after it was taken off 10 years ago.

The Syfy channel was formerly known as The Sci Fi Channel until it was rebranded in June 2009 but by then it was already gone for half a decade from DStv.

MultiChoice removed The Sci Fi Channel in 2004 from DStv after several years because the so-called "genre" channel - dedicated to science fiction, fantasy and supernatural series and films - was underperforming.

Now MultiChoice told DStv subscribers elsewhere in Africa that Syfy will be enriching" their viewing experience and calls Syfy "an exciting new channel", saying Syfy "which features science-fiction, drama, supernatural, fantasy, reality, paranormal, wrestling, and horror programming will help enrich" the pay-TV offering.

Syfy will presumably start on DStv, outside of South Africa, on 1 April although the exact starting date is not yet certain.

Syfy, returning this time as a TV channel on one of the DStv add-on packages in Africa, replaces the Sport+ channel on DStv which is ending on 31 March.

MultiChoice has always maintained that Syfy is too niche a TV channel with too few viewers. Yet now Syfy is being added for viewers in African territories where the ratings and interest would presumably be even lower than for South Africa.

Helix

I asked Universal Networks International earlier this week how it feels about the "reintroduction" of Syfy to Africa.

The response was strangely muted, given that UNI is always happy when it introduces further new TV channels like Studio Universal and Telemundo Africa to the African market.

Thursday evening, through its South African PR agency UNI said in response to being asked about Syfy re-entering the African market on MultiChoice's DStv that "while we continuously review opportunities to evolve our channels portfolio in Africa, Universal Networks International has no announcements to make at this time".

I asked MultiChoice earlier this week if it can say why its's not adding Syfy to DStv in South Africa and why it deems the channel not suitable for South Africa.

Thursday evening MultiChoice said "as you are aware, we constantly add new content on DStv. We generally don't comment on our interactions with content providers for new content as these are confidential".

Ascension

With the slowly dying Style from UNI which was abruptly ended last month and finally and unstylishly euthanised, perhaps replacing it with Syfy on DStv is a good idea.

In 2015 so far DStv subscribers in South Africa are down two channels - Style and Blackbelt TV which are gonners.

Zee World was recently added, so with one TV channel less in 2015, the addition of Syfy in the place of Style to even out the score might lessen the pain for DStv subscribers when MultiChoice's upcoming annual price increase comes into effect on 1 April.

Syfy will however face an uphill battle initially anywhere where it is shown together with channels like M-Net and M-Net Edge which are already carried on DStv.

Like A+E Networks UK's Lifetime on DStv and Netflix (when it eventually arrives in South Africa within the next two years) Syfy will initially be a lobotomised, gutted TV channel with very little exclusive or territory first-run content since most of it has already been given away in signed distribution and licensing agreements with other broadcasters and channels.

Shows like Defiance, Dominion, Haven, Alphas, Being Human, Sanctuary, Warehouse 13 and others are all Syfy shows, including movies like the ongoing Sharknado schlock-franchise.

The latest new upcoming seasons of something like Haven on UNI sibling Universal Channel or Defiance on M-Net Edge won't instantly revert to Syfy should that channel start on DStv or On Digital Media's StarSat. Those shows are locked into existing licensing agreements.

There is hope however. Amazing-sounding, brand-new and real science fiction dramas have been announced and are in development which will soon make it to Syfy.

Just before Christmas, Syfy's new boss, Dave Howein an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, said Syfy's era of "genre-lite" is over and that Syfy is returning to its roots and is tackling genre-heavy smart TV projects.

This new dramatic slate of shows with solid budgets are set to dramatically enhance the channel proposition and content of Syfy which the past few years degenerated into low-budget reality shows and flimsy fare which wasn't really even science fiction (like the new Shark Wranglers on the History channel).

Just take a look at what you're not currently getting to see in terms of new upcoming Syfy shows, as well as some existing Syfy dramas that South African viewers, strangely (no pun intended) have not been seeing - not even on other channels:

The Expanse (upcoming (pictured above) Game of Thrones in space, with a detective and rogue captain racing across the galaxy to solve a conspiracy)
Hackers (upcoming a cyber hacker reality show)
Z Nation (existing the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse like The Walking Dead renewed for a 2nd season)
12 Monkeys (upcoming based on the 1995 virus and time travel movie. This drama will start on M-Net Edge on 16 March at 20:00)
Spin (a mini-series about a young scientists trying to save the world from a mysterious cloud)
Hunters (upcoming a straight-to-series 13 part story about a cop who track a group of alien terrorists)
Childhood's End (upcoming mini-series about invading Earth turning it into a utopia)
Helix (existing which we strangely haven't seen on M-Net about a virus outbreak in an isolated Arctic base filled with conspiracies, renewed for a 2nd season)
Ascension (existing drama aboard a generational space ship from the 1960's now decades into its journey which we haven't yet seen)
The Magicians (upcoming A young man who discovers he's a magician and then attends a college of magic in New York)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

INTERVIEW. Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu on bidding Three Talk on SABC3 goodbye: 'It's a journey that has to come to an end.'


Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu tells TV with Thinus after deciding to end her local daily TV show that she's sad but that "it's a journey that has to come to an end".

Promising "a beautiful goodbye", the talk show host of Three Talk with Noeleen on SABC3 - South Africa's only locally produced daily weekday talk show - stunned viewers yesterday when she announced on her show that she's saying adios on 20 April after 12 years.

On Tuesday morning I spoke with Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu about her decision, what she wants to do next, what she thinks of the the state of local talk TV in South Africa - and how she'll be saying goodbye.


Noeleen, why did you decide that now is the time to step away from Three Talk, because you actually made the decision a year ago?
Noeleen: It was a year ago. You know what Thinus, after 11 years I sat down in the chair one day and I was doing what I did every day and I thought: "What more can I add?" And I really believe - and I've said this from day one, that talk is very personal, and you've got to add something to it.

And you know, I thought, I'm not adding anything. It's time for me to bow out. And obviously I had a conversation with my family, and told the SABC last year, and said :guys I really think I need to leave".

When I entered this arena it was about what am I going to be able to offer? And I just don't think I'm able to offer much more. I think after 12 years, Thinus, you're bored as well of me.


Not really. How did the staff and producers feel when you told them?
Noeleen: You have to ask them. I can't. It would be unfair of me to say "so and so said this". I'm sad. It's a journey that's come to an end. But it's a journey that has to come to an end. I'm 48. I don't want to be on crutches and be walking onto the Three Talk set. I can't wear my high heel shoes!

But seriously. For me it has to be about me. As selfish as that maybe sounds and as sad as it is for people who've been watching for 12 years. You know, I could still go on for another year or two years. But then what? It's enough.


So what's waiting for the next chapter for Noeleen? What is there that you want to do next?
Noeleen: Do you want to employ me? I could be your assistant.


Ha ha.
Noeleen: I'm going to be unemployed.


And with the more time - of not being shackled of having to be at a certain place daily to do an hour long talk show?
Noeleen: You know, I've been working since I was 16. So can you imagine. I'm 48 now. For a while I just want to do nothing. I want to wake up in the morning and make my children breakfast, take them to school. I just want me. I just want me time. It sounds very ... but yes, I just want me. I just want to be me.


It's so striking to me that we haven't seen in terms of local South African TV talk more Noeleen's or more daily, weekday talk shows. 
Noeleen: That saddens me. I really think that we've got huge talent in South Africa. Huge, huge, amazing people. And I would really like to see another run of strong male and female talk doing daily talk. Of exploring different issues and make a difference.

It sounds very insular when I say I want to make a difference. But in 12 years I hope that I have made a difference to a little girl or to a little man, or to a grown-up woman; some kind of difference. And I do think there is ample space - ample, ample, ample space - for really kick-ass talk show hosts.

I have no doubt that they are there. I know that they are there. They just need to be given a chance.


And then the last question, do you yet know how you will say goodbye or who your last guest will be?
Noeleen: Oh my gosh I don't know! Oooh. Now that is going to be so bad. When I say goodbye the last day [20 April at 16:00 on SABC3]. I have no idea. I have no idea, Thinus. But I hope you'll be there.


Well, we will definitely all be watching. Is there maybe a favourite final guest?
Noeleen: I don't know. It's still how many weeks away? We really haven't decided. But it will be a very fun show. That's all I can say. It has to be a fun show. I haven't been fired. There's no acrimony with anyone. It's going to be a beautiful bye-bye.


ALSO READ: An appreciation: From construction company receptionist to talker: What Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu's TV triumph really means to us.

AN APPRECIATION: Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu - From construction company receptionist to talker and what her TV triumph really means to us.


She's ending it. But please - please - don't think of Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu ending the long-running SABC3 weekday talk show Three Talk with Noeleen as a sad story, or a TV story, or a fluff, superficial celebrity story.

With Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu who announced yesterday live on South African TV's longest-running and only hour long local, daily talk show that she's ending it after 12 years on 20 April, you can think of it as a triumph. For all of us.

Think of it as a great South African story. A great success story. A great Eastern Cape success story. A great example for women, for black women, for working moms; for local television.

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu is an example for all of us in South Africa that even if you're a receptionist at a construction company answering phones in one of the poorest provinces in the country, that you can go forward in life, grow; be successful and end up on television as a talk show host.

Here's what they won't say and what we don't actually realise: That currently Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu is in terms of TV lifespan the longest serving, longest uninterrupted female presenter of the same show on South African television.

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu's 12 years on South African television as the face of 3Talk is only surpassed in years by Derek Watts on M-Net's Carte Blanche (who doesn't and never carried the whole hour long show on his own, talking for 42 minutes) and in hours by Leanne Manas of SABC2's Morning Live who's done it for 10 years but on a show that's 2 hours long daily (although the bulk of that period was with a co-host, Vuyo Mbuli).

Take that Felicia, Dali, Masechaba, Penny and the string of South Africans who've had TV talkers: Nobody has talked more in sheer thousands of hours logged minutes by minute over years than Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu.

The celebu-buzz bubbled up when word spread last year that e.tv and eKasi+'s Khanyi Mbau (no shade; I like her and she does great work as a TV talker) surpassed Noeleen to become the most watched South African TV talk show. Uhm, no.

You can't compare a one day or two days a week talk show's ratings with one that's on five days a week. Which is better: The soccer player who consistently scores one goal every Sunday in one match or the one who consistently scores one goal daily five days a week in a match per day?

Quintuple Three Talk with Noeleen's audience (a dedicated audience who got the chance to call in and engage with the show in what is largely a live show - two major differentiators stretching over years from any of the pre-recorded others) and you discover the real numbers and influence of not only what Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu did, but why its actually the real undisputed most watched local TV talk show on South African television.

The legacy of 3Talk and Noeleen Maholwana-Sangu will not be that it was necessarily a great show. Or that it was a bad show. It was a dynamic talk show with and about people.

Just ike people, Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu and her guests and her production crew at Urban Brew had good days and bad days, just like every one of us. It's life and the show mirrored life, because in real life none of us are Oprah.

The legacy of Three Talk with Noeleen lies in its existence. That it existed for 12 years. That it endured with Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu for 12 years, come rain or shine; that is survived on the public broadcaster - notorious as a place where shows disappear without word or trace and where shows come and go according to the often insane and uniformed vagaries and decisions of inept SABC executives.

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu I met for the first time more than a decade ago at a SABC3 quarterly press preview (then still done by the dear SABC3 publicist Michael van Dyk and Papa Mbongo) shortly after she took over 3 Talk.

What happened was that SABC3 lost The Oprah Winfrey Show to e.tv. SABC3 - with Hannelie Bekker then as programming manager (now back in SA as managing director for FOX International Channels Africa) - decided to rather start its own local TV talk show.

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu was roped in quickly for the talk show (which originally started out as a live broadcast in the 18:00 timeslot and has shifted timeslot many, many times since) without a lot of time to prepare.

You might not know it because you're too young, or you might have forgotten: SABC3 actually launched 3 Talk with Bertha Charuma the "Boogie Babe" who was unceremoniously dumped just nine weeks later when things just didn't work out. Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu was the step-in quickly replacement.

And she never looked back.

If there's a "South African dream" in the way that American's believe in the "American dream", then Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu is surely on the list of South Africans who exemplify it for us.

The woman from Umtata who eventually rose to become news editor at Talk Radio 702 and had her own show, "Noleen at 9", was at the time that 702 offered her her first three month contract, only the second black woman on-air there after Zandile Nzalo.

In the years since she became a TV personality, I've interviewed Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu a few times while working at different newspapers and publications and I've always got the sense that she was in it not for the fame, adulation and "TV" but for the long haul and to try and make a difference.

As a TV critic and a journalist covering the TV industry I was never on Three Talk with Noeleen (although I did appear once in a pre-recorded clip) but I've been on the set for a set visit a few years back.

When I look for great television, I also look behind it - at the people who make it. During the set visit of Three Talk with Noeleen I saw the same dedicated, very in-tune, clever and committed producers I've met a few years earlier. Passionate people who really believe in Three Talk and what it represents, and really like and believe in Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu.

Once after a press conference I made a bee-line for Noeleen as the rest ran for the food to ask her about something she said. "You listen way too closely,"she said as she laughed at me.

If there's a lesson for South Africans from Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu's TV tenure its how to keep smiling, laughing, and doing what you're doing. To carry on, regardless of what people and bullies say.

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu as TV talk show host was just like us. And for a lot of people that just wasn't enough (although ironically the perfect TV talk show host is supposed to be the "everyman" or "everywoman").

For a lot of TV critics and viewers over the years Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu wasn't big enough (like Oprah!), or thin enough (like Tyra!), or informed enough (how dare she bring back Sharon Glass and know-it-all Prof. Harry Seftel to talk about bladder infection and Dr. D again and again and again?)

For all the badness of, and on, the SABC, Three Talk with Noeleen was actually part of the goodness - a solid public broadcasting television programme, on free-to-air public television, aimed at people who didn't know and wanted to know more; a TV vehicle that was able to be a lot of things to a lot of people.

Three Talk with Noeleen was for petrol attendants and private bankers alike. For stay-at-home moms who wanted some entertainment and someone to relate to. A place to make a connection.

It was for a scared pregnant 16-year old too scared to go to a doctor to anonymously call on a Medical Monday to ask a question and get help.

It was a place in daytime where one day Celine Dion would do an interview, and the next you could see open heart surgery be shown live as a South African TV first.


It was on Three Talk where Kenny Kunene showed up with five girlfriends, and where Noeleen could read embarrassing personal problems - with unexpected hilarity - like a reader's email asking for medical advice about her vagina which is "sounding like it's having a conversation" every time she's intimate with her husband.

And who can ever forget one whole episode just about poo? Oh Noeleen. I think we will miss you.

Whether real or perceived - and whether viewers ever even realised it or not - Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu and Three Talk with Noeleen on SABC3 was part of what democracy and the media and freedom of the press and public broadcasting television at its core all really is about and should be about: the exercising of the freedom to talk about anything.

Panned or adored or indifferent, you could watch an episode of Three Talk with Noeleen and easily forget that you're watching it in Africa - a local TV talk show in South Africa addressing issues and handling topics so matter-of-factly which would never ever be done or said elsewhere in Africa, sometimes with guests who would never be given even a second of airtime anywhere else on television on the continent.

I've watched Three Talk with Noeleen over the years as young people with faltering voices call in who are abused. As women call in who are crying. As depressed, suicidal, lonely and distraught callers reach out one last time and reached out to Noeleen - usually keeping her composure but herself sometimes being visibly overcome by emotion. Heartbreaking stuff.

A lot of those TV moments over the years changed me and perhaps changed South Africa.

In 2014, on one afternoon, without even knowing the topic, I tuned in to Three Talk with Noeleen.

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu spoke with rape survivors. Not rape victims, rape survivors.

Ordinary South African women from all walks of life spoke - as if its the most natural thing in the world and with brutal honesty - about how they were raped, how the South African Police and several institutions and service failed them, how they literally (on foot and by car) and through court pursued the rapists themselves and got them sentenced and locked up behind bars.

It wasn't a special day. It was just another day of Three Talk with Noeleen.

It was also a bold and empowering hour of the best of what public access local television is capable of being and doing - not just for the women who spoke, but for all South Africa women, and in the end, all South Africans.

The episode was informative and powerful, giving voice to the voiceless and showing women on public television that there's other women who are not ashamed to show their faces and who simply won't stand for heinous atrocities and violent sexual crime.

Ask yourself: On what other TV channel anywhere else in Africa, on what possible local TV talk show, would you ever see this? None.

Three Talk with Noeleen broadened the perspective and TV limits of what's "talkable" - imperceptible, but definite. Fame is a strange thing and used well, it can make a real difference.

Kilimanjaro was something Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu, together with her producers, wanted to climb, but never got to. Instead the mountain they climbed and conquered was television.

Once I was in a minibus on a media day with Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu.

Moronic traffic police pulled us over, wrongly thinking we're a minibus taxi, unable to understand and comprehend it's a rental vehicle from Avis or somewhere. They were ready to pounce with a fine for transporting passengers without a permit. I sat right at the very back, quietly listening and observing.

Eventually, after about 10 minutes of the driver and producers arguing and trying to explain that it's not a taxi, Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu opened her side window, wanting to start to explain what the situation is herself.

Suddenly it dawned on the traffic cop woman who she was talking to. Her rigid, borderline-rude and arrogant attitude instantly changed and melted away and she started to laugh as she pointed. "Hi! It is Noeleen! But I know you!"

"We're doing the show. The people are for the TV. These people are not paying sisi!" said Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu in mock admonishment but humour in her voice. Off we went on our journey.

Thank you Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu. Thank you for the ride.

Monday, February 16, 2015

BREAKING. Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu on 3Talk ending 20 April: 'After giving it a lot of thought, I had decided to hang up my 3Talk shoes'.


You're reading it here first. 

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu of Three Talk with Noeleen on SABC3 stunned her TV audience on Monday afternoon at the top of the hour by telling her viewers that she is ending it after 13 years because she decided to bring the show to a close.

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu stressed that she was not fired, but decided to "hang up my 3Talk shoes".

Three Talk with Noeleen has been, and remains, South African television and the public broadcasters only local daily TV talk show, and was in that sense unique.

No other free-to-air TV channel or pay-TV channel in South Africa has a local TV talk show running with new episodes five days a week, and Three Talk with Noeleen saw several morning, afternoon and even late night attempts at weekly talk shows on public and pay-TV come and go during her past 12 years on the air.

Insiders told TV with Thinus earlier on Monday that an announcement would be made on Monday's show.

While tabloids said that Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu was fired and cancelled, insiders told me earlier on Monday that Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu - turning 48 this year - was getting tired of the daily grind of the show.

Three Talk with Noeleen has seen it moved to several different timeslots over the past decade, with various set, format changes and hair styles over the years.

In the end it was Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu's decision to walk away and end it.

"After coming to you live every afternoon live for 12 years, the show will be ending on 20 April," said Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu on Monday afternoon, making the announcement the moment after the opening title played.

"After giving it a lot of thought, I let SABC know early last year that I had decided to hang up my 3Talk shoes and bring this amazing adventure to an end at the end of this season. The botton line is I was not fired. Do not say it again," said Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu shaking her head.


There's been no announcement from the SABC or SABC3 regarding Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu's departure and neither SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago nor SABC TV head publicist Zandile Nkonyeni responded to any media enquiries during the day on Monday seeking confirmation and comment on the talk show host's decision.

Three Talk with Noeleen is produced by Urban Brew in Johannesburg.

At the end of 2013 and in early 2014 Three Talk with Noeleen also unexpectedly went into hiatus and shut down production, with viewers who had to watch repeats for months and wondered what is happening behind the scenes and where Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu went.

The show restarted on 8 April 2014.

It was before this return - early in 2014 - where there was no explanation about what had happened to the show - that Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu decided to re-up for one more season to continue to do the daily talk show for one more year but to end it after that.

The announcement regarding the end of Three Talk with Noeleen was supposed to have been made on the talk show by Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu on 27 February - but didn't happen.

Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu during her live on-air announcement on Monday at 16:00 acknowledged that the show got the timing wrong.

Just after her announcement on Monday afternoon SABC3 issued a statement at 16:15.

"When we started the show, I could never have imagined that we would have such an enduring relationship with our viewers," said Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu in the press statement.

"I've had the most fabulous 12 years on 3Talk. It's been an amazing adventure which has brought so much fun and meaning into my life, but after a lot of thought, I think it's time for me to bid farewell".

"We are sincerely grateful to Noeleen for her incessant support, commitment and professionalism over the last 12 years," says Aisha Mohamed, SABC3's channel head.

Noeleen has moved, inspired and empowered our viewers through the many episodes of 3Talk. It is the end of an era."

Three Talk with Noeleen on SABC3 will be replaced by a new lifestyle magazine show from the end of April.

Successful multi-year TV talker usually announce their departure at the beginning of their final season but for some reason the SABC, Urban Brew and Noeleen Maholwana-Sangqu waited far too late, pushed it too late and then, as she said "got the timing wrong".

A timeous announcement when talk shows end helps to boost ratings and gives producers the chance to plan flashback episodes and vintage clips from the vaults, and gives proper time to not only plan a farewell show, but to round up celebrities for showstopping performances, as well as goodbye clips.

It will be interesting to see what Three Talk with Noeleen can put together in the time that is now left.