Saturday, July 23, 2016

SABC news staff in open revolt against boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng, stage a silent sit-in 'blackout' on Friday in solidarity with their fired #SABC8 colleagues by all wearing black.

SABC news journalists in an open revolt against boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng and showing their united support for their fired #SABC8 colleagues, on Friday all wore black in a brave silent protest sending a very clear message to SABC management and South Africa that they're tired of newsroom intimidation and censorship

The move - surprising SABC bigwigs and blindsiding SABC bosses while viewers actually remained unaware of the incredibly symbolic silent off-air and on-air protest - was secretly organised without any paper trace.

Wearing black was a resolute show of strength by SABC staffers to show their open defiance of the public broadcaster's draconian policies and newsroom interference the last few months.

The on-air "blackout" on SABC News and the SABC's various TV news bulletins was however primarily done to show their united support for the 8 SABC journalists who were suspended, then fired for voicing concern over chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng's censorship orders and who appeared in labour court on Friday afternoon.

From junior to senior SABC reporters and producers to anchors, SABC news staff on Friday sent a powerful and very clear message to SABC management and South Africa that they're tired of intimidation in their radio and TV newsrooms and the misguided news censorship policy that was unilaterally imposed on SABC journalists on 26 May.

Since no SABC staffers openly talked about why they're suddenly all dressed the same, and with a large number of SABC journalists and anchors who showed unspoken solidarity by "co-incidentally" wearing black, the SABC's acting CEO James Aguma and foolhardy Hlaudi Motsoeneng won't be able to suspend or fire, or take them all off the air for their "blackout" protest.

If SABC management suspended or took steps against every SABC staffer who "happened" to wear black on Friday the SABC's television news division, its various TV news bulletins and its SABC News (DStv 404) channel would literally grind to a halt and implode.

The "blackout" was organised after SABC executives like Hlaudi Motsoeneng and SABC board members, SABC chairperson Obert Maguvhe and Aaron Tshidzumba at the last recent SABC press conference on 11 July told the media that there's no crisis at the SABC since the only time there would be a crisis would be when there's a blackout of the SABC's broadcast signals and the SABC's TV channels not being on air.

Aaron Tshidzumba.who slammed South Africa's print media "for lying to the public" about the crisis-riddled public broadcaster said: "What crisis is there? I never saw SABC off air. Why you telling this company is in crisis? If Eskom is on crisis, there's what? Load-shedding. So if SABC is on crisis, we must be off air. Have you evern seen that off-air?"

On Friday, without saying anything, SABC news staff decided to create a symbolic "blackout" to send a silent insider message from Auckland Park that they feel the SABC indeed is in crisis and that they all support their fired colleagues.

The SABC "blackout" started early in the morning with the Morning Live anchor Leanne Manas in a black jacket doing an outside broadcast.

The dressed in black protest carried on throughout the entire day on all the SABC's various TV news bulletins across all its channels, and on the SABC News channel where reporter after reporter and anchors dressed in unified black showed unity until just before the channel ended its live coverage of the day after 23:00 with reporter Tumaole Mohlaou as the last one appearing dressed in black on Your World.

The labourt court that on Friday heard the case of four of the eight fired SABC journalists - Foeta Krige, Suna Venter, Krivani Pillay and Jacques Steenkamp - is expected to deliver a judgment on Monday or Tuesday.

The other reporters who were fired this week include Thandeka Gqubule, Busisiwe Ntuli and Lukhanyo Calata with SABC contributing editor Vuyo Mvoko who was told his freelance contract won't be renewed and who is also taking the SABC to court.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

BREAKING. Viacom Africa says it will censor gay dads from Nickelodeon in Africa; MultiChoice's DStv will not show The Loud House episode with animated gays.

Viacom Africa is "reassuring" DStv subscribers in South Africa and the rest of Africa that it will be censoring the gay parents out of its animated Nickelodeon series, The Loud House, on its DStv channel.

According to Viacom, showing gay people on Nickelodeon is not appropriate for its Africa audience.

Viacom's Nickelodeon censorship is the latest in a growing trend the past few months where various channels on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform is censoring and pulling content for DStv subscribers across Africa, that is deemed inappropriate for subscription television viewers to be exposed to.

In October 2015 Discovery Networks International that runs the TLC Entertainment channel on MultiChoice's DStv was forced to pull the innocuous new docu-drama, I Am Jazz, about a transgendered teen's struggle and life journey from the channel across the entire Africa just before it was to begin broadcast.

In May NBCUniversal International Networks was suddenly forced to pull the second season of I Am Cait, a reality show about the transgendered Caitlyn Jenner – formerly known as Bruce Jenner - from its E! Entertainment channel on MultiChoice's DStv making it unavailable for the entire Africa.

The increasing censorship of DStv content comes as South Africa's crisis-riddled public broadcaster, the SABC has been mired in a public battle over the decision of its foolhardy chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng, to censor SABC TV News visuals of public protests.

Now Viacom Africa is the latest content and channel provider to MultiChoice to censor what it makes for the rest of the world but that it deems is bad for Africa's DStv viewers - in this case the introduction of a bi-racial, married gay couple who show up in a short scene during which they're seen dropping off their son at a party.

Following a recent episode of Nickelodeon's (DStv 305) animation series The Loud House featuring two gay dads, Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) says it wants to "reassure" its consumers that "the episode will not air on the channel".

"Nickelodeon has confirmed that an episode of The Loud House featuring two gay dads will not air on its channel in sub-Saharan Africa," says VIMN Africa.

For VIMN Africa, showing married gay parents on TV in Africa is inappropriate. Viacom says "on-air content can differ from market to market".

Ironically Viacom Africa says "The Loud House is an animated series about the comedy and chaos of family life in all its forms".

For Africa's DStv subscribers it will however not include or show the animated gay dads, since "Nickelodeon strives to ensure that content respects the varying traditions and family values in each country." For The Loud House episode in question that was recently shown overseas, Viacom is however not just censoring it for specific countries but for the entire Africa.

Viacom Africa says The Loud House is "rooted in the creative team's own experiences from childhood and their observations today as parents themselves.  Its stories and characters are all grounded in the realities of many modern families today, as seen from the perspective of the 11-year old main character."

Nickelodeon previously showed a drag queen character in its series Bubble Guppies and a same-sex kiss in The Legend of Korra.

BREAKING. M-Net picks up new Mr. Robot after show, Hacking Robot for M-Net Edge on DStv; will broadcast it right after the second season Mr. Robot premiere tonight.

That future of television you wished you could get to and life in? Well, you're finally actually living in it: I can reveal that M-Net is adding yet another great after show for a popular drama series and will be showing the new Hacking Robot as part of the new second season of Mr. Robot on M-Net Edge (DStv 102).

Dedicated viewers who want more about certain hit shows and critically acclaimed dramas and who will stay tuned to TV longer to find out more about it - as opposed to going online to look for answers and community - can increasingly stay tuned for "after shows".

With Mr. Robot adding a new after show for its second season, M-Net sparked to quickly pick Hacking Robot up for broadcast on M-Net Edge, just like it did a few months ago with the After the Thrones companion show to Game of Thrones.

Hacking Robot with Andy Greenwald, who just recently was a co-presenter of After the Thrones, will provide a behind-the-scenes look at the breakout drama.

Hacking Robot will be broadcast on M-Net Edge (DStv 102) right after the linear broadcast of the first episode of the new second season - just like in America.

It means that Californication will take a break on-air and the next episode of that show will go out next week.

The second season of Mr. Robot about the vigilante cyber hacker Elliot Alderson (Rami Malek) who works with the underground cyber hacking group fsociety is an Express from the US title on M-Net Edge, with episodes broadcast on Fridays at 03:00 for viewers who simply can't wait to see it quickly.

Mr. Robot episodes are then shown again in prime time on Thursday nights.

Also take note that the first and last episodes of Mr. Robot's second season have been scheduled as two-hour long episodes on 15 July and 16 September. The episode order of the second season of Mr Robot has also just been increased from 10 to 12 episodes.

"The first season of Mr. Robot was everything we hoped for – and then some," says Chris McCumber, the president of entertainment networks at NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment in a statement.

"From the first moments of the new season, it'll be clear that audiences are in for something incredibly special and wholly unexpected".

"The extraordinary ride that is Mr. Robot continues with a wild season two. It's a brilliant and immersive journey that demands to be watched again and again," says Jeff Wachtel, the chief content officer of NBCUniversal cable entertainment and the president of Universal Cable Productions and Wilshire Studios.

SuperSport, MultiChoice will run 7 24-hour TV channels for the 2016 Olympic Games from Rio on DStv from 5 August, including a 24-hour Olympics news channel.

SuperSport will run 7 24-hour TV channels on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform with coverage of the 2016 Olympic Games from 5 August, including a 24-hour Olympic Games news channel produced by the International Olympic Committee.

SuperSport will use the SS4, SS5, SS6, SS7 as well as SS12, SS13 and SS14 channels on DStv to bring DStv subscribers dedicated coverage of the 2016 Olympics, with SS1 and SS3 that will be used to cover overflow content, mostly Sevens rugby,golf and soccer.

The 24-hour Olympics news channel will run on SS12 on DStv and the Blitz channel will broadcast regular updates and direct viewers to the big daily events.

SuperSport says it will bring viewers more than 2 500 hours of Olympics coverage over 15 days during August and will broadcast every gold-medal event live.

Crystal Arnold, Carol Tshabalala, James Wokabi, Ryk Neethling and Rui de Oliveira (doing coverage in Portuguese) are being dispatched to Rio de Janeiro to report from various Olympic Games venues and the team village.

SuperSport will have a staff of 80 involved in producing the live broadcast of the 2016 Olympic Games from its Randburg headquarters, with another 20 people involved in production at the International Broadcast Centre in Rio de Janeiro.

With multiple feeds available, SuperSport will pick and aggregate the best content for viewers - mostly with a Pan-African leaning, that will be played out across the various channels.

MultiChoice and SuperSport will be making extensive event highlights available on the DStv Catch Up service that will include every gold-medal winning performance, and highlight packages will also be broadcasting daily.

SS4         Opening ceremony, swimming, athletics, marathon, walk, closing ceremony.
SS5         Hockey, handball, volleyball (beach and indoors), gymnastics, trampoline.
SS6         Tennis, basketball, four cycling disciplines, table tennis, badminton.
SS7         Boxing, weight lifting, judo.
SS12       Olympic News Channel.
SS13       Watersport: rowing, diving, etc.
SS14       Fencing, modern pentathlon, equestrian.

SS1         Golf, Sevens rugby (when not clashing with live non-Olympic sport).
SS3         Football (when not clashing with live non-Olympic sport).

The SABC TV News anchor Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller pregnant; expecting her first child, a girl, and 'off for a new adventure' as she goes on maternity leave.

The SABC's SABC TV News anchor Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller is pregnant and expecting her first child, a girl, with husband Geoffrey Miller.

Monday night was the last time SABC viewers saw Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller who left for maternity leave.

Co-anchor Peter Ndoro said viewers have been wondering for months why it seemed as if Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller was putting on weight behind the anchor desk. 

"I will miss being here, but I'm off for a new adventure," she said.

"It's a little girl!" said Peter Ndoro, as Vabakshnee Chetty-Miller took out a pair of small pink shoes at the end of Monday evening's bulletin, after which he reached over and hugged her on-screen.

The professional and beloved news reader on SABC3 and SABC News (DStv 404) got married in November 2014 in Stellenbosch.

Black Sails on History cancelled after 4 seasons and Cape Town Studios lot fire that destroyed one of the on-set ships; will end with final season in 2017.

Black Sails on History (DStv 186) has been cancelled after 4 seasons and a devastating fire that ravaged the set of the pirate drama in May that was filmed in Cape Town at the Cape Town Studios.

The recently filmed 4th season of Black Sails that will be broadcast in 2017 will be the last of the adventure drama series produced for the Starz channel in America and licensed by A+E Networks UK for its History channel on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform in South Africa and Africa.

In early May a devastating fire that took hours to bring under control, engulfed one of the on-set prop ships at the Cape Town Studios that was burnt out and destroyed in the blaze and caused massive damage.

Afterwards Starz told TVwithThinus it didn't want to comment about the fire and the on-set damage. Now no further episodes of Black Sails for another season on the sprawling lot that included a big pirate town complete with a shoreline recreation, won't be filmed.

The show, seen in more than 200 countries and territories, follows the exploits of Captain Flint (Toby Stephens) and takes place 20 years prior to Robert Louis Stevenson's classic novel, Treasure Island.

"It's a rare privilege in television to be given the kind of creative freedom we've enjoyed on this show over the last four years," says Jonathan E. Steinberg, co-creator and executive producer in a statement announcing the Black Sails cancellation.

"While it was a difficult decision for us to make this season our last, we simply couldn't imagine anything beyond it that would make for a better ending to the story".

According to Starz the final 4th season "will bring us to the shores of Treasure Island as was always intended. Black Sails has been a tremendous success; from the loyal fan following and strong viewership numbers to awards recognition and the skill of our world-class production in Cape Town, we could not be more proud of this very special series."

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

SABC's SABC2 TV news anchor and RSG presenter Ivor Price resigns; slams Hlaudi Motsoeneng whose 'poisonous tentacles have infested the entire public broadcaster'.

The well-respected SABC TV news anchor Ivor Price has resigned, saying he cannot remain silent any longer and slammed the SABC's controversial boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng, saying "his poisonous tentacles have infested the entire public broadcaster".

In Ivor Price's open letter (in Afrikaans) published by Netwerk24, the SABC2 TV news anchor and presenter on the SABC's Afrikaans radio sttion RSG, says that even if Hlaudi Motsoeneng "resigns tomorrow or is fired,it will take long before good journalists will get over the debilitating fear".

Ivor Price on Tuesday revealed that he resigned from the SABC after the public broadcaster fired all 8 of its journalists who voiced concern over Hlaudi Motsoeneng's sudden diktat on 26 May that the SABC will censor SABC TV News visuals of public protests and will not be broadcasting the destruction of property.

Without any disciplinary hearings, flouting labour law and without any due process, Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane, the SABC's head of news and actuality, emailed dismissal letters to Suna Venter (senior journalist), Foeta Krige (RSG executive editor), Jacques Steenkamp (senior investigative journalist) and Krivani Pillay (SAfm current affairs executive producer).

Then Nyana Molete, the latest acting head of SABC News signed dismissal letters for Busisiwe Ntuli (specialist producer for the investigative programme Special Assignment on SABC3), Lukhanyo Calata (a SABC journalist in Cape Town whose father Fort Calata was one of the Cradock Four anti-Apartheid struggle activists), and Thandeka Gqubule (economics editor).

Contributing editor Vuyo Mvoko as the 8th person of the #SABC8 group who spoke out against SABC censorship was a freelance journalist and the SABC will not be continuing his contract.

In his letter Ivor Price writes that in May this year it was "no longer always enjoyable going to work in the morning. It felt more and more like dark clouds were gathering" and that SABC journalists feel they are being watched, and details a May incident of how Hlaudi Motsoeneng threw his toys on the floor.

"More and more SABC journalists say straight up in the corridors they don't want to touch SABC related stories because they have too much to loose," Ivor Price writes.

In June he says, when the Right2Know Campaign held national public protests at various SABC offices countrywide in Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town and which the SABC decided not to cover at all, "all hell broke loose inside the SABC."

"The SABC has become a place where you can lose your job because you differ from a colleague."

"I can't sit and watch helplessly how unjust actions are perpetrated in my name," writes Ivor Price whose last working day at the SABC is on 5 August.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng sees to it that all 8 suspended SABC journalists are fired without disciplinaries; news anchor Ivor Price resigns.

Where to begin with the trash-crush and crises-riddled demimonde that is the SABC?

SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng - as chief operating officer (COO) the boss over all operations of the SABC - has now seen to it that all 8 of the suspended SABC journalists, known as the #SABC8 are immediately fired.

1. All 8 were fired, without due process, without any disciplinary hearings, and with blatant disregard for South Africa's labour law and by only getting an email, simply for voicing their concern and another opinion to the draconian and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng's 26 May diktat that the SABC's SABC TV News division must censor news coverage of public protests and not show the destruction of property.

On Tuesday a day after the SABC outright fired Suna Venter (senior journalist), Foeta Krige (RSG executive editor), Jacques Steenkamp (senior investigative journalist) and Krivani Pillay (SAfm current affairs executive producer) with a letter from Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane, the SABC's head of news and actuality, the SABC also fired the other 4.

On Tuesday the SABC fired Busisiwe Ntuli (specialist producer for the investigative programme Special Assignment on SABC3), Lukhanyo Calata (a SABC journalist in Cape Town whose father Fort Calata was one of the Cradock Four anti-Apartheid struggle activists), and Thandeka Gqubule (economics editor) with dismissal letters.

Contributing editor Vuyo Mvoko as the 8th person of the #SABC8 group who spoke out against SABC censorship was a freelance journalist and the SABC terminated his contract.

The letters firing the other 4 SABC journalists were carbon copies of the firing letters of the first four, this one signed by Nyana Molete, the latest in a string of SABC news staffers filling the position as acting head of SABC News since everyone keeps quitting or getting fired.

"It is common cause that you have made it known to the SABC that you will continue to disrespect the SABC, your employer," reads the firing letter.

"It has now become clear to the SABC that you have no intention to refrain from your conduct of undermining the SABC and the authority of its management. In the premise your continued acts of misconduct have become intolerable. Your employment with the SABC is thus terminated with immediate effect."

2. The SABC TV News anchor Ivor Price resigned.
Ivor Price, a SABC TV News anchor on SABC2 who is also a presenter on the Afrikaans SABC radio station RSG, resigned, saying he could no longer remain silent, telling Netwerk24 in an open letter than Hlaudi Motsoeneng's "poisonous tentacles have infested the entire SABC."

"Even if Hlaudi Motsoeneng is fired tomorrow or resigns, it will take long for SABC journalists to get over the fear."

3. Political and other reaction - and those staying silent.
Meanwhile the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, and a backer and ally of the controversial and famously matricless Hlaudi Motsoeneng, has remained completely silent, not saying or doing anything, and doing nothing to resolve the growing number of crises at the SABC.

The ANC political party when asked for comment over the SABC's firing of the 8 journalists, said "no comment".

The South African Communist Party (SACP) in a statement said the firing of the 8 SABC journalists who questioned the SABC's censorship decision was a "reflection of structurally deeper administrative and governance decay" at the SABC.

The Democratic Alliance political party who on Tuesday held a public protest at parliament said action must continue until the integrity of the SABC is restored. "The ANC are complicit in the complete breakdown of good governance at the SABC".

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) says in a statement it ts shocked by the firing of the 8 journalists without due process and deeply distressed over the ever-unfolding crisis at the SABC, saying it will possibly call on its members to stop paying their SABC TV licences.

"If the impasse at the SABC is not resolved without delay the IFP will again call on its rank and file to stop paying their TV licences as a form of protest."

The COPE political party says in a statement that the SABC is "an illegitimate institution overseen by an illegitimate COO".

COPE says it "urges South Africans to withhold their SABC TV licence fees" and is calling on "every advertiser to cancel with the SABC with immediate effect. Their failure to act appropriately will signify that they place no premium on freedom of expression and the rule of law".

The Organisation Against Tax Abuse (Outa) is called for an urgent investigation the non-existent Faith Muthambi into the SABC.

"By dismissing these journalists‚ the SABC's autocratic leadership will simply engender more fear and cause less inclusiveness to critical internal discussion and debate," says Outa.

The Council for the Advancement of the South African Constitution (Casac) on Tuesday called for an urgent parliamentary meeting over the crisis-riddled SABC and its latest shame.

"Parliament is once again failing to exercise its constitutional responsibilities to hold the executive and the SABC board to account. The rebuke the National Assembly recently received from the Constitutional Court ruling in the Nkandla matter appears to have fallen on deaf ears," says Casac.

The Right2Know Campaign and SOS Coalition calls Hlaudi Motsoeneng a tyrant, saying the firing of the 8 SABC journalists was a "show trial" with "trumped-up and nonsensical charges".

"It is the sort of thing we now expect under the tyranny of COO Hlaudi Motsoeneng."

"It is also telling of the complicity of higher-ups, like Faith Muthambi who insist on propping up the COO, in contempt of the courts and the Public Protector."

"This has continued as the SABC lurches from crisis to crisis, as the climate of fear for journalists grows and even as unions, civil society, opposition parties, and even factions of the governing party condemn Hlaudi Motsoeneng".

4. Trade unions: The Communication Workers Union (CWU) who got a raise from Hlaudi Motsoeneng recently says it supports Hlaudi Motsoeneng and his SABC censorship isn't saying or doing anything.

Bemawu says it will take the SABC to Labour Court after firing the 8 SABC journalists without disciplinary hearings, no due process, no warning letter and over something that's not even a fireable offense. That is besides the trade union Solidariteit that is also taking the SABC to the Labour Court over the same issue.

The Mwasa trade union in an open letter slammed the matricless broadcasting demagogue, telling Hlaudi Motsoeneng that "the world will not be silent as you continue your viral destruction and wreak havoc". Mwasa told Hlaudi Motsoeneng to "just resign and leave".

5. Amnesty International in a strongly-worded statement said firing the 8 SABC journalists is "a cynical and sinister ploy to entrench fear".

"The dismissal of eight SABC journalists following their suspension over their questioning of editorial decisions by the broadcaster's executives is a cynical and sinister decision designed to entrench a climate of fear at the institution‚" says Muleya Mwananyanda‚ Amnesty International's deputy director for Southern Africa.

"Their dismissals will only serve to undermine journalistic and media freedoms at the SABC. The eight journalists must be re-instated immediately".

6. Longtime SABC news staffers told TVwithThinus on Tuesday: "In the last year this [SABC] has become one of the ugliest and most oppressive places I've ever worked at" and "Every step further where nothing happens to him, he [Hlaudi Motsoeneng] feels emboldened to go further".

7.Scared SABC news staffers no longer want to cover and report on SABC stories, fearful they will end up in internal SABC real politik cross fire.

8.SABC bad reputation damaged further. SABC PR tzar Kaizer Kganyago who wasn't available for comment according to several reports, told one newspaper after the firings that the SABC "isn't concerned about and won't be influenced by the public reaction over the dismissals".

Meanwhile the SABC continues to make front page, lurid headlines in newspapers across South Africa ... literally daily (weekdays and on weekends non-stop) that's trashing the SABC's already trash reputation and its negative brand perception.

9. It's deja vu at the SABC (1) where the Public Protector found in her February 2014 report that Hlaudi Motsoeneng was directly involved in getting rid of every single SABC staffer who opposed him and who testified against him in earlier disciplinary hearings against him.

10.It's deja vu at the SABC (2) where the Public Protector found in her February 2014 report that Hlaudi Motsoeneng's last purge of SABC staff cost the beleaguered public broadcaster millions of rand, finding that firing senior employees "had cost the broadcaster millions, due to its procedural and substantive injustices".

"Most of the cases were handled without following proper procedure. All 14 suspensions and terminations were successfully challenged in court and at the CCMA".

The avoidable legal fees and payouts ballooned the SABC's salary bill with a massive R29 million that was unnecessary, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

News round-up:
■ Ray White, now assignment editor at Eyewitness News who worked at the SABC, says at the SABC a "Hlaud has dimmed the SABC's bright future", detailing how a young Hlaudi Motsoeneng was essentially a moron and struggled and was transferred to Bloemfontein.

"Journalists are no longer in charge of bringing you the news - the SABC is now the news."

■ Meanwhile after the SABC fired its 8 suspended journalists, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is slamming South African brands like Wimpy, Checkers, Vodacom, Clientele Life, Spur and others saying they better weigh the damage they do to their own brand being associated with and directly supporting censorship and undermining South Africa's democracy.

Meanwhile initially over R50 000 in donations was made by South Africans to help the fired journalists climbing to over R84 000 late on Tuesday from 124 people.

■ Trade union Solidarity says the SABC is behaving like a kangaroo court,

■ Daily Maverick has Ranjeni Munusamy weighing in on Hlaudi's Kill Bill: The Slippery Slide towards manipulating the news and that what started out as an attack on media freedom is fast becoming an attack on democracy.

SABC fires 4 of its suspended 8 journalists - Suna Venter, Foeta Krige‚ Jacques Steenkamp and Krivani Pillay - for opposing Hlaudi Motsoeneng's SABC News censorship edict.

Without any disciplinary hearings, the SABC has outright suddenly fired 4 out of the SABC's 8 suspended journalists on Monday afternoon who were suspended for merely speaking out against SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng's sudden SABC News censorship policy.

The four journalists – Suna Venter, Foeta KrigeJacques Steenkamp and Krivani Pillay – received a letter of dismissal on Monday afternoon from Sebolelo Ditlhakanyane, the SABC's head of news and actuality that they're fired.

"It is common cause that you have made it known to the SABC that you will continue to disrespect the SABC, your employer," read the SABC letter.

"It has now become clear to the SABC that you have no intention to refrain from your conduct of undermining the SABC and the authority of its management."

"In the premise your continued acts of misconduct have become intolerable. Your employment with the SABC is thus terminated with immediate effect, being 18 July 2016".

The sudden firing, without due process and in contravention of South Africa's labour laws, has strong echoes of what the chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng did, according to the Public Protector's February 2014 report.

The Public Protector found that Hlaudi Motsoeneng was directly involved in the purge, and got rid of every single person at the SABC who opposed him and who testified against him when he had disciplinary hearings earlier against him at the SABC for transgressions.

Last week the 8 SABC journalists, known as the #SABC8, filed an urgent application to South Africa's Constitutional Court to have their charges declared unlawful.

The trade union Solidarity representing the 8 SABC journalists said it would apply this Thursday to the Labour Court for an urgent interdict to have their suspensions set aside.

The other four suspended SABC journalists are Thandeka GqubuleBusisiwe NtuliLukhanyo Calata and Vuyo Mvoko.

A week ago the Independent Communications Authority of South African (Icasa) ruled that Hlaudi Motsoeneng's censorship of the SABC News' coverage of public protests is wrong and ordered the crisis-riddled public broadcaster to reverse its ban on visuals of property destruction during public protests, backdated to 26 May 2016 when the SABC took the decision.

On the same day after the decision, Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the SABC won't comply with the broadcasting regulator's ruling and that "no-one will tell us what to do".

Monday, July 18, 2016

Netflix beams up CBS Studios International's new Star Trek series; grabs international licensing rights and will add entire Star Trek TV library by end of 2016.

Netflix is where South African viewers will have to watch the new Star Trek TV series from early 2017, with Netflix that has grabbed the exclusive international licensing rights for the new drama series.

While the expectation was that either M-Net or Naspers' subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) ShowMax would secure the 13-episode first season from CBS Studios International, its Netflix that grabbed the international rights.

While CBS All Access will show Star Trek in America, Netflix will be the home of Star Trek in 188 countries. Each episode of the new Star Trek - no cast or time period setting has yet been announced - will be available globally within 24 hours after an episode is shown in The United States.

Unlike most Netflix series where whole seasons and series are available for binge-watching, Star Trek will roll out a new episode weekly for online streaming.

Besides grabbing the new Star Trek, Netflix in a statement says that by the end of this year all 727 existing episodes of the iconic Star Trek television library - Star Trek: The Original Series, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space 9, Star Trek: Voyager and Star Trek: Enterprise will be available on Netflix around the world.

Both Star Trek: The Original Series and Star Trek: The Next Generation that were remastered into a new high definition (HD) version, as well as Star Trek: Enterprise will be available on Netflix in HD.

Filming on the new Star Trek with Alex Kurtzman and Bryan Fuller as co-executive producers will start in September in Toronto, Canada, with the first episode show in January 2017.

"The launch of the new Star Trek will truly be a global television event," says Armando Nuñez, president and CEO of CBS Studios International.

"Star Trek is already a worldwide phenomenon and this international partnership will provide fans around the world, who have been craving a new series for more than a decade, the opportunity to see every episode virtually at the same time as viewers in the United States."

"Thanks to our world-class partners at Netflix, the new Star Trek will definitely be 'hailing on all frequencies' throughout the planet."

"Star Trek is one of the most iconic shows in television history and we're thrilled to partner with CBS to bring the beloved series to Trekkies around the world," says Sean Carey, the vice president of Global Television at Netflix in the statement.

"The newest chapter of the story promises to continue the rich tradition of adventure and is sure to excite fans everywhere Netflix is available".

SABC puts its treasurer and chief financial controller both on 'special leave' after they warn public broadcaster it will be out of cash by November.

The SABC has summarily put both its treasurer and chief financial controller on "special leave" after they warned the SABC that it will be out of cash by November without intervention as the beleaguered public broadcaster has been bleeding hundreds of millions of rand monthly.

The Sunday Times reported that SABC treasurer Arrie Thomas and chief financial controller Petra Campher were both placed on special leave this past Wednesday. 

With two of the SABC's top three financial executives gone, it leaves James Aguma as the chief financial officer (CFO).

James Aguma however is now acting CEO after the previous acting CEO Jimi Matthews abruptly quit three weeks ago over the SABC's news censorship policy.

Meanwhile the permanent but suspended CEO, Frans Matlala reportedly got a R18 million SABC payout as part of a golden handshake to go away. 

Frans Matlala was appointed in November 2015 and got suspended after just four weeks, with the SABC and the SABC board unwilling to explain to the public exactly why the public broadcaster's highest ranking executive is gone.

After the SABC's chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng lied to parliament's portfolio committee on communications in April 2015 - saying that the SABC would make a profit after which the SABC posted a loss of R395 million a few months later - the SABC is once again on track to post another annual loss, this time likely in the region of R500 million.

Earlier this year Hlaudi Motsoeneng again said the SABC is "profitable". 

In May Hlaudi Motsoeneng ordered an increase of 90% needletime for local South African music, announced an increase in the royalty payment fee percentage, ordered that all local TV content on the SABC's TV channels should immediately be increased to 90%, starting with SABC3.

He also announced that the SABC will roll out 4 new "language-based" TV channels that will cost the SABC R1 billion, while the SABC is struggling to adequately programme and fill its existing terrestrial TV channels that's awash in bad quality programming and numerous rebroadcasts and repeats.

The crisis-riddled SABC currently burns through roughly R600 million per month while what remains of the public broadcaster's gutted top executives and unstable SABC board came under fire with near universal harsh criticism over Hlaudi Motsoeneng's dramatic recent policy to censor public protest visuals on SABC TV News.

The South African broadcasting regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa), ordered the SABC to stop censoring its public protest news coverage, backdated to 26 May, but Hlaudi Motsoeneng said last week "no-one is going to tell us what to do".

Meanwhile 8 suspended SABC reporters who oppose the SABC's new censorship decree and face disciplinary hearings, have lodged an urgent application straight to the Constitutional Court for their case to be heard there.

Connie Ferguson is the queen in Mzansi Magic's new telenovela, The Queen, produced by Ferguson Films, that will 'strip bare the rich's insatiable lust for power''.

Connie Ferguson is proving why she's the queen of South African television; the soap star turned TV producer will appear next in her second role and producer credit in Mzansi Magic's The Queen from August.

The Queen, a new telenovela from Ferguson Films starting on 1 August on Mzansi Magic (DStv 161) at 21:00 has Connie Ferguson in the lead role as the high-powered executive Harriet Khoza, together with stars like Senzo Ngqobe, Loyiso McDonald, Mbali Nkosi, SK Khoza, Themba Ndaba, Natasha Thahane.

The Queen also sees Connie Ferguson and Sello Maake Ka-Ncube reunite on-screen who thrilled viewers for years as the sister-brother pair Karabo and Archie Moroka in SABC1's Generations while Sophie Ndaba was Queen Moroka.

Now it's Connie Ferguson's turn to play the queen after producing and starring in seasons of her and husband Shona Ferguson's Rockville.

It is in fact the additional Mzansi Magic commissioning and workload of The Queen that saw Connie Ferguson dump Generations earlier this year where she took up her old role of Karabo again for two years after the SABC and Mfundi Vundla fired the principal cast.

In The Queen, Connie Ferguson will be seen as a successful business woman whose husband is hiding a big secret.

When his secret is revealed, it forces the character of Harriet - a dedicated wife and mother -  to "do the unthinkable" in this new telenovela that will "strip bare the insatiable lust for power among the rich and the victims who find themselves at their mercy".

Besides producing Rockville and The Queen for Mzansi Magic, Ferguson Films is also responsible for the channel's viewership hit Igazi.

More More 7de Laan soap stars exit the SABC2 soap as Melanie du Bois, Masego Sehoole and Corné Crous contracts are not renewed; Anelisa Phewa quit.

More 7de Laan soap stars are exiting the long running Afrikaans soap on SABC2 with the characters of Felicity, Pulane, Sifiso and Kim who will also soon be disappearing from viewers' TV screens and the fictional Hillside community.

Melanie du Bois is done with her fashion designer character of Felicity Daniels Croukamp in 7de Laan after 15 years, with her character that will make an on-screen exit in October from the Danie Odendaal Productions show.

Also leaving is Masego Sehoole who played Pulane, Corné Crous who played Kim, and Anelisa Phewa who played Sifiso.

Melanie du Bois, Corné Crous and Masego Sehoole's were essentially fired; their contracts were not renewed by the soap, while Anelisa Phewa quit.

Anelisa Phewa was offered the opportunity to lecture in film and studies but due to new changes enforced by the SABC, actors are not allowed to do other work. Anelisa Phewa decided to leave the soap production to focus on the new lecturing opportunity at Afda, the Sschool of Motion Picture Medium and Live Performance.

The latest 7de Laan exists follow the recent announcements that Diaan Lawrenson who played Paula, Jo da Silva who played Gita and Christo Davids who played Errol are also done with the soap.

Melanie du Bois who is going through a divorce from Reginald Botha after 14 years will be filming her final 7de Laan scenes on Friday and is opening up about her divorce and soap exit in the cover story of the latest issue of Huisgenoot.

'Clearly intoxicated' Top Chef SA and Top Billing presenter Lorna Maseko upstages YOU Spectacular 2016; drops F-word on-stage in rambling speech.

An apparently drunk Lorna Maseko upstaged the YOU Spectacular 2016 when she went off message in a rambling speech on stage while she dropped the F-word, said she wanted to be a rapper and revealed that she is divorced and "newly single".

The awkward and cringe-worthy on-stage drama unfolded when Lorna Maseko was supposed to present the award for Rising Star at the YOU Spectacular 2016 on Saturday evening.

While YOU Spectacular 2016 host Anne Hirsch valiantly tried to wrestle back control from Lorna Maseko who was "clearly intoxicated" according to reports, the presenter of Top Billing and Top Chef South Africa on SABC3 launched into a rambling speech, including on-stage profanity, instead of properly presenting the award to rapper Emtee and leaving the stage.

Dropping the F-word, Lorna Maseko told the audience she always wanted to be a rapper. 

Commenting about short men, she also felt it appropriate to share that she's newly single and divorced. According to reports, Anne Hirsch eventually took Lorna Maseko's mic away after Lorna Maseko also said she's even ready for a lesbian relationship with Anne Hirsch.

Lorna Maseko married Gcina "GC" Lukhele in December 2010 in at the Memoire wedding venue in Muldersdrift attended by 150 close friends and family members.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Petition calls on advertisers from Clientele Life, FNB, Vodacom and Checkers to Telkom and Chicken Licken to boycott and stop advertising on the SABC.

A Petition has started calling on advertisers to boycott the SABC and to stop advertising on the South African public broadcaster due to the SABC's unwillingness to end the censorship of SABC TV News regarding the broadcast of public protests.

The petition, started on the community advocacy organisation's website, is asking advertisers to stop advertising on the SABC until its ends SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng's censorship decree, and is asking the South African public to let advertisers know that they will no longer buy their products and services if they continue to advertise on the SABC.

The online petition asks that Clientele Life, Chicken Licken, FNB, Vodacom, Carling Black Label, Checkers, Telkom boycott the SABC and stop advertising on the SABC.

"More and more organisations and political parties including the ANC, agree with us that what is happening at the SABC is wrong. But the situation at the SABC is deteriorating rapidly, with journalists facing suspension and more and more evidence surfacing of censorship. This calls for a different approach," says the petition.

"We know the SABC makes much of its revenue from advertising, so together with our allies from the SOS Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa, let's call on some of the SABC's largest advertisers - Clientele, Chicken Licken, FNB, Vodacom, Carling Black Label, Checkers, Telkom and others - to pause their advertising with our SABC until this censorship is brought to and end".

The South African broadcasting regulator, Icasa, on Monday ruled that the SABC's censorship of SABC TV News is wrong and needs to be stopped immediately, retroactively to 26 May.

The SABC's controversial chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the SABC will not listen to Icasa, that "no-one is going to tell us what to do", and that the SABC will fight the ruling to the Constitutional Court.