SABC NOW WANTS MONEY FOR 'MUST CARRY'

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

'Oh, Barb!' Hit Netflix series Stranger Things renewed for a bigger second season; scare mystery tale will continue a year later in 1984.


"Oh, Barb!" The hit Netflix series, Stranger Things, has been renewed for a slightly bigger second season that will become available on the global video streaming service in 2017.

Netflix made the second season renewal announcement in a YouTube teaser trailer video.
South Africans, along with viewers elsewhere in the world, have been binge-watching the frightfully excellent series set in the 80s, with Stranger Things that's filled with multiple touchstones to the thrills and scares of that era's scary movies, infused with the horror and wonder pop culture style from meisters Steven Spielberg and Stephen King.

Viewers love the scare-story of a group of boys in the town of Hawkins who find a strange telekinetic girl after one of their friends mysteriously disappears, as they set off on a The Goonies type mystery adventure that also has Wynona Ryder making her pop culture comeback with a Christmas lights set piece that must be seen to be believed.

Meanwhile actress Shannon Purser who plays nerdy girl school girl Barb has just been cast as as Ethel in the upcoming new TV series Riverdale, based on the Archie comics.

The second season of 9 episodes for Stranger Things will have one more episode than the first season of Netflix's breakout hit, and will retain the Duffer Brothers as writers as well as Shawn Levy and Dan Cohen as the executive producers.

The second season of Stranger Things is set to continue in 1984, one year after the time period of the first season.

Award named after SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng as South African Traditional Music Awards decides to name a category after controversial SABC COO.


An award is being named after the SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng for his important contribution.

The South African Traditional Music Awards (SATMAs) that will be taking place on 1 October in Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal is honouring the South African public broadcaster's famously matricless chief operating officer (COO) by naming a category after him.

According to the SATMAs the naming is to honour the controversial broadcasting figure for ordering the 90% local airplay of South African music on the SABC's radio stations in May.

"I'm happy. But what is more important is for me, I just came with this idea of 90%. Not knowing that people of South Africa, they will be so excited - especially the artists themselves," said Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Dumisani Goba, SATMA founder, says "we took a decision to honour ubab' Motsoeneng with one of the categories. Not during this period of the SABC, but lifetime," meaning the award will carry Hlaudi Motsoeneng's name after his departure from the SABC.

OpenView HD dumps under-performing channels ASTV, Spirit Word, Ekurhuleni TV and Wild TV Africa; will add a new channel in October.


OpenView HD (OVHD) is dumping 4 TV channels from its service that it says is under-performing - ASTV, Spirit Word, Wild TV Africa and Ekurhuleni TV - and says it will add a new TV channel in October.

Following the news that OpenView HD is done with ASTV - a channel it actually acquired a shareholding in in mid-2014 but failed to grow as a partner - the free-to-air satellite platform run by eMedia Investment's Platco Digital says it is also getting rid of the Spirit Word, Wild TV Africa and Ekurhuleni TV channels.

ASTV will go dark on OpenView HD on 14 October with Spirit Word, Wild TV Africa and Ekurhuleni TV getting cut from the end of September through to mid-October.

Wild TV Africa that was added to OpenView HD in August 2015 lasted just a year since OpenView HD said in July 2015 its "excited" about adding it.

ASTV that will continue to be seen on On Digital Media (ODM) and StarTimes Media SA's StarSat platform, willgo dark three years after it was picked up by OpenView HD in October 2013. The community TV station, Ekurhuleni TV was added to OpenView HD in January 2014.

OpenView HD says it will add a new TV channel in October.

"The decision to terminate the 4 channels' contracts came after careful consideration of their performance and the overall OpenView HD strategy going forward," says Ziyanda Mngomezulu, OpenView HD's channel and acquisitions executive.

Ziyanda Mngomezulu says OpenView HD's overall audience and business objectives mean that the available channels on OpenView HD require constant reassessment.

The 6-part, dramatised docu-series, Mars, will start on the National Geographic Channel on DStv on 13 November about man's journey to the red planet.


National Geographic Channel (DStv 181) will bring South African viewers the fictionalised docu-series Mars about man's journey and exploration of the red planet from 13 November as a global event.

The 6-episode Mars that will start in 171 countries including South Africa at the same time, will be both a fictionalised, scripted drama about mankind's quest to colonise Mars from the viewpoint of a fictitious crew set in 2033, as well as scientists and scientific minds like South Africa's Elon Musk of Tesla and SpaceX fame, talking about it.

Mars will chart the fictitious, futuristic journey of the Daedalus to the fourth planet in our solar system with a dramatic scripted story, intercut with interviews with current scientists and innovators who are leading the research and development of space technology that will make a future Mars mission possible.

The Mexican filmmaker Everardo Gout was the director of the dramatic part of the series that was filmed earlier this year in Budapest and Morocco to stand in for the harsh Martian backdrop.

The Mars production team took painstaking efforts to base the scripted future story of Mars exploration on real-world science and the series' writing team worked with an extensive group of experts.

"We're going to become a multi-planet species and a space-faring civilisation or we're going to be stuck on one planet until some eventual extinction event," says Elon Musk in Mars. "In order for me to be excited and inspired about the future, it's got to be the first option".

National Geographic will support the Mars TV series with a 6-part digital companion, prequel series, Before Mars that will launch prior to the premiere of the TV show as a digital, virtual-reality experience at www.MakeMarsHome.com.

Mars will be the cover story of the National Geographic magazine in November and will also be featured in a standalone book, Mars: Our Future on the Red Planet, that will be on sale from October.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The newly launched Intelsat 36 satellite over Africa will help MultiChoice to launch new HD channels on DStv as well as new services.


The successful launch of the new Intelsat 36 on Wednesday from French Guiana will enable South Africa's MultiChoice to add new high definition (HD) channels to its DStv platform and to roll-out new services to DStv subscribers.

The additional use of the Intelsat 36 satellite represents a significant increase in MultiChoice's capacity to provide its direct-to-home (DTH) satellite subscription services. says Brian Jakins, Intelsat's regional vice president for Africa.

Intelsat 36, the 58th Intelsat satellite launched by Arianespace, will enhance Intelsat's existing satellite capacity over Africa and will enable MultiChoice to extend HD channels in South Africa and throughout the African region.

Intelsat has a longstanding history with MultiChoice, going back to 1991. "Intelsat 36 with act as a backup to our existing IS20 satellite, taking some risk out of our business making sure our customers have their services uninterrupted" says Mark Rayner, CEO of MultiChoice South Africa.

"We're committed to bringing our customers the freshest and best local and international content, delivered across a variety of platforms, to consume whenever they want to," says Mark Rayner.

"We continue to grow our business as fast as technology and content will allow. We want to bring people a great viewing experience - best local and international content, plus BoxOffice, Catch Up, the best video-on-demand (VOD) service we can give them in Africa. ANd we do that together with Intelsat, our longterm partner".

Intelsat CEO Stephen Spengler says "Intelsat 36 will enable MultiChoice to extend high definition channels throughout the region via one of Africa's premier video neighborhoods".

"We are proud to once again partner with MultiChoice as they continue to deliver high quality and compelling educational and entertainment services to their customers throughout sub-Saharan Africa".

MultiChoice goes mall mad with new #MultiChoiceLive travelling roadshow pop-up exhibition; kicks off in Cape Town at Canal Walk, then other provinces.


MultiChoice is bringing DStv to malls across South Africa starting this weekend in Cape Town with a new #MultiChoiceLive event tour that will also visit Durban, Johannesburg, Soweto and Pretoria over the next few months.

The immersive and interactive #MultiChoiceLive will be at Canal Walk from Friday at 15:00, Saturday at 11:30 and Sunday at 11:00 with a range of DStv stars taking part in the travelling roadshow pop-up exhibition.

Visitors will be led through an immersive MultiChoice journey about the satellite pay-TV operator and its brands, content, history and products. 

Stars like Soli Philander, Food Network's celebrity chef Siba Mtongana, SuperSport's Julia Stuart, Idols host and producer ProVerb and and kykNET's Boer Soek ‘n Vrou presenter Minki van der Westhuizen will be making appearances over the weekend.

Choirs from kykNET's reality singing competition show Varsity Sing will perform on Saturday at Canal Walk, along with the Idols winner Elvis Blue. MultiChoice also promises several interactive activities for kids.

After Cape Town, the #MultiChoiceLive event moves to Galleria Mall in Durban (23 0 25 September), Sandton City in Johannesburg (21 – 23 October), Maponya Mall in Soweto (25 – 27 November) and Menlyn Park in Pretoria (16 – 18 December).

Thursday, August 25, 2016

As Nigerian exodus of companies accelerates, MultiChoice doesn't plan to ditch Nigeria; MultiChoice Africa says it 'remains firmly committed' to Nigerian market.


Pay-TV operator MultiChoice says it doesn't plan to disinvest and leave Nigeria and remains committed to doing business there, amidst the West African country's tanking economy and increasingly onerous regulatory environment that's accelerating the scale of the ongoing exodus of South African and other multinational companies.

MultiChoice Africa tells TVwithThinus that the pay-TV company that operates the DStv and GOtv brands across the continent, "remains firmly committed to its joint venture in Nigeria".

It comes as Nigeria's economy continues to nosedive against the backdrop of a regulatory environment for all Nigerian business sectors that continues to grow more hostile for companies to thrive and has also seen onerous conditions imposed on MultiChoice in the country the past few months not found elsewhere in Africa.

Sun International has now joined the stampede of companies that has jettissoned Nigeria over a too harsh investment climate and worsening economic policies, following South Africa's Truworths, Clover and Tiger Brands out the door.

Meanwhile a growing number of airlines have quit their Nigerian routes over mounting losses and at least 14 airlines dumped Nigeria and started the process of moving their operational offices to Ghana. Cellular operator MTN was slammed with an astronomical fine.

MultiChoice says it has no plans to abandon Nigeria where it has become increasingly more difficult to do business.

"MultiChoice Africa was one of the first pan-African businesses to establish operations in Nigeria over 23 years ago. Our commitment to Nigeria has seen major investments in infrastructure, people and great entertainment which will continue as we have a long-term view and confidence in the Nigerian market," says MultiChoice Africa.

Earlier this year Nigeria's Consumer Protection Council (CPC) that executed a shocking raid in October 2015 on MultiChoice's head office in Lagos, ordered onerous changes to MultiChoice Nigeria's service not found elsewhere in Africa, ranging from one month's worth free switch-off per year to billing system changes, and to to pay out "compensation" to DStv subscribers who over time lost paid viewing time by not having their service restored quickly enough after payment.

In February Nigeria's senate slammed "the menace of MultiChoice" while Nigeria's broadcasting regulator, the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) is tightening the censorship screws that is increasingly having a negative impact on MultiChoice's DStv across the entire Africa.

Since late-2015 Nigeria's NBC has forced MultiChoice and channel partners ranging from Discovery Networks International (DNI) to NBCUniversal International Networks to pull certain programming from various TV channels on DStv, making the content unavailable for the entire Africa - not just in Nigeria - since channel providers have only one satellite channel feed to Africa.

In just Nigeria's telecommunication sector, Nigerians already pay 26 different kind of taxes, with the government that plans an additional, brand-new 9% Communication Service Tax (CST) that will have a further detrimental impact on all telecommunication companies, internet service providers and pay-TV operators like MultiChoice in the country.

Consumer rights groups and telecom stakeholders in Nigeria have been vocal about the adverse effects the CST will have on consumers and businesses already battling a harsh economic environment with a PwC Nigeria report on the proposed tax saying it will add to making Nigeria "unattractive to investors".

On Tuesday, MultiChoice Nigeria launched GOtv Lite as a new, cheaper package with less TV channels, of MultiChoice Africa's existing GOtv digital terrestrial television (DTT) service on the continent.

GOtv Lite with 20 TV channels, a new lower-tiered option to GOtv Plus and GOtv Value, will now target Nigerian pay-TV subscribers who can't afford the various DStv packages and the two more expensive GOtv options in the country where the worsening economic conditions has negatively impacted subscriber numbers.

In June MultiChoice, owned by Naspers Limited, said its keeping subscription fees in several African countries - including Nigeria - unchanged for a year to try and halt a decline in subscriber numbers.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Naspers' video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service ShowMax turns one and changes logo to include colour; serves up 10 million 'views' the past year.


ShowMax, Naspers' video-on-demand (VOD) streaming service has turned one and has changed its logo that now also includes colour.

ShowMax says the logo change from the framed black and white logo used the past year, is to give the service more flexibility in terms of colours and usage.

The new logo - adopting a new small caps font and adding dark magenta and teal stripes - will be rolled out the next few weeks and replace the old ShowMax logo where its being used, for instance on apps on smart devices and MultiChoice's DStv Explora interface.

While ShowMax remains silent about its number of actual subscribers since it launched in August 2015, it says that it has achieved 10 million "views" over the past year.

ShowMax currently offers 600 movie titles and 365 TV series, still at the launch price of R99.

According to Morgan Stanley, ShowMax is expected to break even in 2021 when it reaches 800 000 subscribers.

ShowMax competes with Netflix in South Africa and across the rest of Africa since the global streaming service activated its service on the African continent in January 2016 - along with MTN's relaunched VU, the just-launched PrideTV, and PCCW Global's OnTapTV.com.

China's OnTAPTV.com that has been very quiet the past year in South Africa and doesn't communicate new content additions to its streaming service, will turn one year old on 16 September and is still available at the launch price of R89 per month.

MultiChoice adds SuperSport 12 channel for Spanish soccer to DStv; opens Mzansi Magic, SuperSport 3 and SuperSport 4 channels for a week.

MultiChoice is opening the Mzansi Magic, SuperSport 3 and SuperSport 4 channels to for DStv Family and DStv Access subscribers from today for a week, and starting the new SuperSport 12 channel for Spanish soccer from Tuesday on DStv.

The Mzansi Magic (DStv 161), SuperSport 3 (DStv 203) and SuperSport 4 (DStv 204) channels are being opened for a week, from today until 29 August, for the lower-tiered DStv Family and DStv Access subscribers.

It means DStv Family and DStv Access subscribers will be able to watch the start of the new Premier Soccer League (PSL) season starting on Tuesday, 23 August.

On Tuesday MultiChoice is adding a new SuperSport channel, SuperSport 12 (DStv 212) for DStv Premium and DStv Extra subscribers. It will be a 24-hour channel dedicated to the Spanish premier league La Liga.

MultiChoice and The Walt Disney Company are opening The Disney Channel (DStv 303) from 5 September for a month to DStv Extra and DStv Compact subscribers.

Friday, August 19, 2016

The shocking ratings slide of SABC2's 7de Laan continues: How much has the tampering, retooling, cast changes and timeslot meddling damaged the soap?


Concern is growing over the once popular SABC2 soap 7de Laan that's continuing its shocking ratings slide after ongoing tampering and retooling, unending cast changes and a misguided timeslot change have all been taking a heavy toll on the damaged weekday soap.

7de Laan, once alternating with the Venda soap Muvhango as the most watched show on the SABC2 schedule and one of the most watched shows on South African television has continued to fall out of viewer favour after seemingly just too many ongoing changes.

The Danie Odendaal Productions produced weekday soap dropped another massive 269 527 viewers in just one month from June to July (to 1.81 million viewers).

While shows gain and lose some viewers marginally from month to month, veteran TV shows like 7de Laan are mostly stable: ratings rises and viewership declines do happen, but are very gradual. 

That is why advertisers love soaps – with a stable built-in audience, they deliver consistent ratings.

Advertisers buy airtime in these repetitive shows because they’re guaranteed a certain volume exposure for their brands to a largely set target audience that doesn’t show dips and spikes over time, but 7de Laan is no longer delivering the numbers advertisers are promised.

To put into perspective what has happened with 7de Laan: The plunge of over a quarter of a million viewers who used to watch SABC2 but abandoned 7de Laan in just one month represents a drop-off of 18.52% in the show's audience share from just one month to the next – and that is massive.

While viewers are fickle and it's easy for any TV to lose viewers, it's incredibly hard to get them back.


Misguided timeslot move
Adding to the show's latest handicap is that SABC2 executives abruptly moved the long-running soap in July from its 18:30 berth to the 19:00 timeslot. 

Meanwhile the show that replaced it in the 18:30 timeslot, Election Debate, ironically completely tanked in the ratings, not showing up as one of the top 20 most watched shows on the SABC2 July schedule.

That means that a very large number of viewers simply tuned out and away from SABC2 during the timeslot, and that a lot less viewers came back to SABC2 and 7de Laan at 19:00.  

Exactly two years ago in August 2014, SABC2 executives ordered wide-ranging production changes to be implemented to the Afrikaans soap to make it more multicultural and to try and lift stagnant ratings. It included several set alterations and changes.

In June 2015 the show also dropped its iconic Soweto String Quartet theme song for a forgetable new ditty, with viewers who vocally complained that their howling dogs familiar with the tune, no longer made a noise reminding them to watch the show.


Changing face
Meanwhile a massive number of ongoing 7de Laan cast exits have seen the disappearance of longtime familiar faces and it is literally changing the face of the soap – gone are the people who felt like friends and who viewers have come to know and tune in to see.  

The departures of Heino Schmitt, Werner Coetser and Zane Meas have seen Diaan Lawrenson, Jo da Silva and Christo Davids follow them out the door. 

Meanwhile Melanie du Bois, CornĂ© Crous and Masego Sehoole's were essentially fired – their contracts were not renewed by the soap, while Anelisa Phewa quit when he was not allowed to be on the soap and also be a film and TV lecturer at AFDA.

In March after the walk-on starlet Enhle Mbali Mlotshwa left the soap she slammed 7de Laan for alleged on-set racism and claimed that she suffered racial abuse working on the show with the SABC that ordered an investigation.


With 7de Laan literally not looking the same anymore – from its theme song, sets, different faces and the loss of a lot of familiar ones – its transition the past few months, coupled with a dramatic timeslot change, has made it harder, not easier, for viewers to find and stay tuned in to the soap.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Bye-bye, The McLaughlin Group: The McLaughlin Group to end this weekend after 34 years with a final episode as a special retrospective tribute.


After 34 years on the air, The McLaughlin Group will end this weekend with its final episode, following the death this week on Tuesday of its moderator and host John McLaughlin (89).

The final episode of The McLaughlin Group will be recorded on Friday and will take the form of a special tribute retrospective episode with the existing panelists of Pat Buchanan, Tom Rogan, Eleanor Clift and Clarence Page.

The final episode will be done to honour the legacy of John McLaughlin.

The McLaughlin Group can be viewed online.


■ Esquire's 2008 essay reprinted: The McLaughlin Group taught me more about human interaction than any other show.
"There are 388 shows on television that feature lunatics yelling at one another, but this is still the only good one".

■ Bloomberg: A brief video tribute to John McLaughlin.

■ You'll be missed, John McLaughlin.

■ Clarence Page in The Chicago TribuneJohn McLaughlin's final 'Bye-bye'.


For Discovery Channel's Shark Week for 2016, DStv subscribers will for the first time be able to take a bite out of additional shark content on DStv Catch Up.


After a failed and disappointing Shark Week in late-June on Discovery in America, Shark Week is coming to Discovery Channel (DStv 121) in South Africa and across Africa from Monday 29 August.

This year additional shark-related content that will be available on MultiChoice's DStv Catch Up service for Discovery Channel viewers.

The past few years Discovery Networks experimented with establishing and growing a similar "Shark"-themed programming strand for South Africa and Africa on the Discovery Channel, starting with Shark months and now aligning ever closer and closer to America's version of Shark Week.

This year however, where Discovery usually has its Shark Week in late-July and early-August, executives moved Shark Week earlier to be out of the way of the Olympic Games - but ratings were down because of the move and Shark Week largely flopped.

As a result, in 2017, Discovery is moving Shark Week back to its "original" position.

With Discovery finally doing a proper Shark Week for its South African channel, it means that next year will see the closest-aligned Shark Week yet between South Africa and the United States versions.

Back to this year, Shark Week will kick of on 29 August for Africa's DStv subscribers watching the Discovery Channel, with the programming strand bringing viewers compelling shark stories about these ocean predators on a daily basis at 21:00 and 22:00.

Here's the Discovery Channel Shark Week programming:

Monday 29 August
Sharks Among Us 21:00
Dr. Craig O'Connell showcases a system that will prove that sharks and people can peacefully co-exist.

Shallow Water Invasion 22:00
Marine biologist Mauricio Hoyos and Grant Johnson discover great whites moving into the shallow waters of Guadalupe Island at night. This is an increasing trend, which would account for some of the shark attacks and encounters happening with greater frequency along coastlines.


Tuesday 30 August
Isle of Jaws 21:00
Andy Casagrande discovered that great white sharks had strangely and completely disappeared from the Neptune Islands off South Australia. Searching west along the known great white migration route, he stumbles upon an incredible discovery - a concentration of all make great white sharks off an unchartered island.

Sharks vs Dolphins: Face Off 22:00
Delve into the true nature of the relationship between these two masters of the sea. Dr. Mike Heithaus and his team bring new research that may solve why sharks attack dolphins far more than we ever knew.


Wednesday 31 August
Air Jaws: Night Stalker 21:00
Chris Fallows embarks on his 8th Air Jaws adventure. With shark expert Jeff Kurr and shark biologist Neil Hammerschlag, they discover how great white sharks hunt in total darkness.

Killing Games 22:00
Dr. Jonathan Werry and filmmaker Andy Casagrande travel to a special location in South Australia to research a new great white hunting strategy where they no longer wait for seals to enter the ocean - they come out of the water and snatch them from the shore.


Thursday 1 September
Wrath of a Great White Serial Killer 21:00
A newcomer has taken residence in the waters of the Pacific Northwest. Shark expert Ralph Collier and Brandon McMillian seek answers as to why great white sharks are travelling so far north.

Return of the Monster Mako 22:00
Professional shark tagger Keith Poe and marine biologists Greg Stuntz, Matt Ajemain and their team use state-of-the-art technology to try and document a live attack of a mako shark.


Friday 2 September
Jaws of the Deep 21:00
Greg Skomal and the SharkCam team return to Guadalupe to find the world's largest great white shark, Deep Blue. They uncover the hunting techniques and strategies great whites use to ambush their prey.

Sharksanity 22:00
Experts search the seas to bring you the greatest moments from Shark Week 2016 with closest calls, biggest bites and greatest gadgets.

After her racist remarks Wendy Williams fires producer Jason 'the white one' and other senior staffers before the start of the 8th season on 19 September.


After her racist and misguided remarks, the American talk show host Wendy Williams held a wrap-party at the end of the 7th season after which she fired staffers who made her look bad, including Jason "the white one".

The Wendy Williams Show will return with its 8th season starting on 19 September on BET (DStv 129) but it will be without one of "her" two Jasons: Jason Gabel.

Jason Gabel was fired after the wrap-party in July together with two other senior producers on the talk show, shocking staff.

After public pressure and sponsors dropping the Debmar-Mercury produced show, Wendy Williams was forced to apologise on-air just before the end of the season for saying, among other things, that she doesn't believe in historically black colleges because there's no "white" equivalent.

Wendy Williams Show staffers then held a wrap-party, only for Wendy Williams to give them the ax the next day, including Jason Gabel who often features together with Jason "the black one".

Jason Gabel has been with The Wendy Williams Show right from the beginning in 2008 and Wendy staffers are reportedly furious that Jason Gabel and others are being scapegoated for Wendy Williams' own misguided opinions.

MultiChoice and Walt Disney opening up The Disney Channel for a month from 5 September to DStv Extra, DStv Compact subscribers for channel's 10th anniversary.


MultiChoice and The Walt Disney Company are opening The Disney Channel (DStv 303) on DStv for all DStv Extra and DStv Compact subscribers for a month in September to market the brand and celebrate the channel's 10th anniversary in South Africa.

MultiChoice added The Disney Channel on 25 September 2006 to DStv in South Africa. The premium mouse ears channel that's for DStv Premium subscribers will be opened for DStv Extra and DStv Compact subscribers from 5 September to 10 October to celebrate its 10th anniversary.

Among the content that DStv subscribers will be able to watch are Disney Channel original movies on weekends at 17:25, including the 100th original Disney Channel movie, Adventures in Babysitting on 23 September at 17:25 with Sabrina Carpenter and Sofia Carson.

The new live-action comedy series Stuck in the Middle starts on 22 September at 18:15 and follows middle-child Harley in a family of seven siblings.

After having started on SABC2 on Fridays afternoons in July, Disney's first long-form series, Disney Cookabout is being repeated on The Disney Channel from Thursday 8 September at 18:40 in which teen "cooktestants" in the Western Cape find local ingredients and cook recipes in the Magic Kitchen.

Classic Disney films will also be shown like Full Out (9 September 17:25 and 10 September 10:40), A Bug's Life (16 September 17:25 and 17 September 10:40) and Ratatouille (24 September 17:25 and 25 September 10:40).

Lentswe Bhengu replacing Donovan Goliath as co-presenter in the second season of The Great South African Bake Off on BBC Lifestyle.


The largely unknown Lentswe Bhengu is replacing Donovan Goliath as co-presenter in the second season of The Great South African Bake Off on BBC Lifestyle (DStv 174) starting in October.

Lentswe Bhengu will now join former co-presenter Anne Hirsch in the place of Donovan Goliath that failed to pop in a lackluster first season presenting stint in the Rapid Blue produced baking show for the BBC Worldwide channel seen in South Africa and Africa.

Lentswe Bhengu is the only swap-out in the second local South African version based on the Love Productions format, with judges Shirley Guy and Tjaart Walraven both returning for the second season of The Great South African Bake Off.

Not that familiar to many viewers, Lentswe Bhengu made appearances on the community TV channel SowetoTV's Kasi Kitchen, a web series called Africa on a Plate and on SABC3's breakfast show Expresso and has worked as a chef at restaurants like Savoy Cabbage, The Roundhouse and Saucisse Deli.

"I'm over the moon to be joining The Great South African Bake Off," says Lentswe Bhengu in a prepared statement. "I can't wait to join BBC Lifestyle's successful local version.

Anne Hirsch says she "can't wait to see what this year's bakers have in store for us".

Judge Shirley Guy says she's "delighted to be back for a new season and I'm sure that the show is going to be even better this year".

Judge Tjaart Walraven says he's also "absolutely thrilled to be back again in the Bake Off tent and I'm looking forward to even more incredible bakes".

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Viewership plunge for SABC shows after local content move in July; SABC2's 7de Laan sheds hundreds of thousands as new SABC3 local shows collapse.


The SABC has been hit by a viewership plunge for several shows following abrupt local TV content moves, with the popular weekday soap 7de Laan on SABC2 for instance shedding hundreds of thousands of viewers and SABC3 confronting a schedule disaster with every single one of its new local shows started in July that's a ratings flop.

Just a few months after it announced changes to its TV schedules in February, the SABC in July once again upended its TV channels' schedules in a month that also saw the abrupt firing of Verona Duwarkah as the SABC's head of television who was replaced with Nomsa Philiso.

The SABC's TV schedules rejig from July was a result of the public broadcaster's controversial and famously matricless chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng who ordered a drastic cut-back to international TV content as part of his plan for 90% local content on the SABC's TV channels, starting with 80% local programming on SABC3 from July.

In July ad agency executives warned the SABC that the public broadcaster is going to experience huge losses in terms of advertising revenue if the sudden new slate of programmes doesn't manage to lure viewers and get ratings.

With 7de Laan moved later to 19:00 on SABC2 as part of the changes, the popular Afrikaans weekday soap shed a shocking 269 527 viewers from June to July to plunge from 5th place on SABC2 in June to a shocking 9th place on SABC2's ratings with 1.81 million viewers (5.4 AR / 15.4 share).

On SABC3 where the schedule underwent a massive change with a flurry of new local shows rushed to production, not a single one got enough viewers to rate anywhere close to the top 20 most watched programmes on SABC3 during July.


The Bold remains beautiful
Ironically it was again the American soaps, The Bold and the Beautiful and Days of Our Lives that Hlaudi Motsoeneng wants to get rid of, that did the bulk of the lifting to lure viewers to SABC3.

On SABC1, the local primetime soap Generations The Legacy pulled ahead marginally ahead of Uzalo for the second time since May, grabbing 8.3 million viewers (24.7 AR / 68.7 share) in July, compared to Uzalo's 8.1 million (24.3 AR / 64.3 share).

The SABC1 schedule is the one the SABC needs to be least worried about, with a stable performance from reliable locally produced programmes bringing in strong ratings.

On SABC2 in July its top-rated show, the Venda weekday soap Muvhango was down to 5.7 million to June's 5.8 million.

Besides the plunging 7de Laan, the Afrikaans news on SABC2 fell to 14th place (1.43 million) from 12th (1.47 million) in June in its changed timeslot. SABC2's Sotho news bulletin also shed viewers from 1.69 million in June to 1.36 million in July.

Local SABC2 shows Thola, Skwizas, It's Gospel Time, Keletso, the live Lotto draw, Speak Out all saw marginal viewership upticks, but the Mmampodi and Fokus viewership were lower compared to the previous month.


Viewers love Leon Schuster, Idols
On e.tv the ratings for both its cornerstone soaps Scandal! and Rhythm City were marginally lower in July (4.8 million and 3.5 million).

Meanwhile Leon Schuster came to e.tv's aid as the hidden camera prankster scored the 1st, 3rd, and 4th most watched places on e.tv's top 20 list for July with Mr Bones (5.1 mil), Mama Jack (4.3 mil) and Mr Bones 2: Back from the Past (4.1 mil) luring in millions of viewers.

The e.tv decision to cancel its local telenovela Ashes to Ashes was a right move: its viewership took a whopping dive from June to July from 3.2 million viewers to 2.5 million. WWE Wrestling Raw and Zbondiwe remained steady.

Meanwhile the Broadcasting Research Council of South Africa (BRC) that has massively curtailed the South African public's access to TV viewership figures the past year has decided to further redact and marginalise the information.

From this month the BRC suddenly only makes available a combined top 30 programme list to the public for MultiChoice's DStv for the month of July, instead of for a selection of individual DStv channels like it did monthly since earlier this year.

In July the 12th season of veteran reality signing contest show Idols, now just on the Mzansi Magic channel roared back as a hit with 1.12 million viewers.

Uefa Euro 2016 and Vodacom Super Rugby on the SuperSport channels and Tom & Jerry Tales on Turner Broadcasting's Boomerang were some of the top viewership drawa on DStv during July.

Meanwhile Mzansi Magic's Our Perfect Wedding, Igazi, Isibaya, Rockville, Date My Family, Doubt, Isikizi, Ring of Lies and Greed & Desire dominating the ratings and most-watched list on DStv.

SHOCKER. SABC3 entire new local content slate a TV ratings flop; ratings collapse in July as not a single new local programme finds favour with viewers.


The SABC's disastrous move to suddenly dump international content and flush the SABC3 schedule with cheap and badly produced local content from July has seen SABC3's ratings collapse, with viewership for all the new shows so low that not a single one of the new programmes managed to even make last month's top 20 most watched shows.

After an abrupt order for his plan of 90% local television by the SABC's controversial chief operating officer (COO) Hlaudi Motsoeneng that was hastily implemented in July, the plunging ratings for SABC3 spells disaster for August and beyond since some foreign films and the weekday soap Days of Our Lives that were still shown in July, largely propped up the SABC3 schedule for July.


ALSO READ: Viewership plunge for SABC shows in July after schedule moves; SABC2's 7de Laan sheds hundreds of thousands.


Not a single one of the flurry of new local shows on SABC3 rushed to production managed to become a viewership hit, nor got enough viewers to rate anywhere close to the top 20 most watched programmes on the channel in July.

Despite collectively costing the SABC a lot of money to produce, all the new local SABC3 shows are viewership flops according to South Africa's TAMS TV ratings.

With too low viewership to make the top 20, the local SABC3 TV flops range from the panned Divas of Jozi (replacing Survivor), Top Chef South Africa, The Sober Companion, Fun-Natix and Frontier Vets, to the new local weekday talk shows like Anele Mdoda's Real Talk, Jason Goliath's Larger Than Life and the panel talk show Trending.

Also viewership failures are Siv Ngesi's Jou Ma se Chef and the new weekend edition of Expresso.

The Janez Vermeiren produced The Man Cave eaked out a barely-there 20th spot in the ratings for July with a lowly 597 635 viewers (a 1.8 AR) - but that was for the last time it was broadcast in its Sunday evening slot before again being shunted yet again for a third time to its new timeslot on Friday nights where it doesn't rate at all.


Shockingly, existing local shows on SABC3 like the telenovela High Rollers that's meant to prop up the weekday schedule that ranked 10th in June, completely dropped out of the top 20.

The fact that not one of the new SABC3 local shows rate - meaning that very few viewers are watching these - means that the troubled SABC3 must adjust advertising rates for timeslots down due to the fewer viewers it's getting. That means less income.

By having replaced popular shows with local shows that has lower production values, higher income TV households - those that advertisers want to reach - have fled SABC3.

It also means that SABC3's overall ratings - it's combined audience figures for August - will be lower, a problem for SABC3 that is already struggling in the viewership race as the SABC's only commercial TV channel.

When the top 20 programmes list, now made up out of less of the more-watched international content, consists out of more lower-rated local shows that people don't want to see, it means that SABC3's combined viewership tally will be lower in August.

In early July ad agencies warned the SABC that the public broadcaster is going to experience huge losses in terms of advertising revenue if the sudden new slate of programmes don't manage to lure viewers and rate.

The American soap The Bold and the Beautiful - the type of content that Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the SABC will dump - is still by far the most watched programme on SABC3, number one in the channel's ratings in July with 1.55 million viewers (4.6 AR / 16.9 share).

It's followed by the Chinese science fiction comedy film, CJ7 in second place with 1.2 million viewers (3.6 AR / 12.2 share) and then the weekday local soap Isidingo remaining in 3rd place with 1.17 million viewers (3.5 AR / 10.1 share).

While Hlaudi Motsoeneng in June and again in July said that viewers don't watch Days of Our Lives, it remained a perennial solid performer in July for SABC until it was yanked from the schedule, with 1.07 million viewers in 7th place (3.2 AR / 17 share).

International movies in July helped to prop up the SABC3 schedule with Jinxed, A Knight's Tale, Click, The Sorcerer's Apprentice, Spanglish and Fired Up taking six places out of the top 20 most watched content on the channel above any of the new local shows.

One better performer on the SABC3 schedule after moved to a later afternoon timeslot from July was Afternoon Express, now ranking 13th and managing a place in the top 20 for the first time.

Here is the list of top 20 highest-rated programmes on SABC3 in July:

1.The Bold and the Beautiful   1.55 million       4.6 AR
2.CJ7                                        1.2 million         3.6 AR
3.Isidingo                                 1.17 million       3.5 AR
4.Jinxed                                    1.14 million       3.4 AR
5.Filler: Winter on Air              1.145 million    3.4 AR
6.Gourmet                                 1.142 million    3.3 AR
7.Days of Our Lives                 1.078 million     3.2 AR      
8.Places to Be                           1.071 million     3.2 AR
9.Places to Be (repeat)              976 406             2.9 AR
10.English news                        876 992             2.6 AR
11.Wildest Africa                      827 848            2.5 AR
12.A Knight's Tale                    820 983             2.4 AR
13.Afternoon Express               731 290             2.2 AR
14.Click                                     679 119             2 AR
15.The Sorcerer's Apprentice    675 510            2 AR
16.Spanglish                              633 039            1.9 AR
17.Top Billing                           621 536             1.8 AR
18.Fired Up                               612 356             1,8 AR
19.Filler                                     604 805            1.8 AR
20.The Man Cave                      597635             1.8 AR


ALSO READ: Viewership plunge for SABC shows in July after schedule moves; SABC2's 7de Laan sheds hundreds of thousands.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

'BYE, BYE': John McLaughlin, moderator of 'the American original', The McLaughlin Group, dies at 89 from cancer; now with his dog, Oliver, in heaven.


John McLaughlin, the moderator of the weekly The McLaughlin Group has died.

He was 89 and died in his home in Virginia in hospice care after prostrate cancer that was diagnosed a while ago and that had spread.

After a repeat episode the previous week, this past week was the first time in 34 years of hosting the fast-paced weekly political panel show that John McLaughin wasn't in the centre blue chair as moderator, although such was the dedication of the panelists Clarence Page, Pat Buchanan, Tom Rogan and Eleanor Clift, that they did the episode without him.

"Earlier this morning, a beloved friend and mentor, Dr. John McLaughlin, passed away peacefully at the age of 89," said the McLaughlin family in a statement on Tuesday.

"As a former jesuit priest, teacher, pundit and news host, John touched many lives. For 34 years, The McLaughlin Group informed millions of Americans. Now he has said bye bye for the last time, to rejoin his beloved dog, Oliver, in heaven. He will always be remembered."


John McLaughlin was the creator, executive producer and moderator of "the American original", The McLaughlin Group that started in 1982 and was seen around the world, including South Africa on channels like CNBC Africa (DStv 410) for a number of years, after which full weekly episodes were immediately uploaded every Saturday to YouTube.

John McLaughlin was known for the academic-like quality, topics and grilling questions he asked his panelists, his "Bye, bye" and sign-off handwave at the end of every every episode, his often unexpected "forced predictions" and his "On a scale of zero to 10, where 0 means zero probability and 10 means metaphysical certitude...".

This past week John McLaughlin missed his first episode in 34 years.

The episode started with a note, telling viewers: "Dear friends of The McLaughlin Group, Dr. McLaughlin here. As the panel’s recent absences attest, I am under the weather. The final issue of this episode has my voice, but please forgive me for its weaker than usual quality. Yet my spirit is strong and my dedication to this show remains absolute!"


Although sounding incredibly frail and of course ill, John McLaughlin still recorded the voice-overs for all of the "issues" in the last episode for the panelists to discuss and argue over.

Following his death, on Twitter, The McLaughlin Group said: "John is with Oliver" a reference to his beloved basset hound who passed away years ago and can always be seen at the end of every episode's end credits as part of Oliver Productions.

He mentioned Oliver again in one of his two-part, annual "Year End" specials two years ago, saying: "Person of the year: Pope Francis, especially now that he's told that animals can go to heaven. And Oliver is up there waiting for me."

An emotional Tom Rogan - who often, gently, acted as almost a second moderator helping a sometimes forgetful John McLaughlin along with prompts and who book-ended the last episode with a goodwill message to John McLaughlin ("On behalf of the panel we all want to say to John, we're thinking of you and you have our very best" - shared a message on Tuesday about John McLauglin who he called on his website my close friend and defining mentor.

Panelist Eleanor Clift, for years from Newsweek and then The Daily Beast, wrote a fitting and must-read goodbye, saying "We will miss his signature phrases, beginning with Issue One, and ending with Bye-Bye. And we will miss the man".


Editor: The first time I watched John McLaughlin - and I still have it on several old VHS cassettes - was as moderator of the special Cheers 200th episode that was broadcast on the then CCTV channel.

He was, and spoke like the university professor I wish I had but never did during all my years of tertiary education.

Prefacing every discussion with "issue one", "issue two" he would lay out the subjects with background and then challenge the panelists with difficult questions, trying to catch them out, but probably being proud when they managed to hold their arguments, fight back and come up with "right" answers.

Every since The McLaughlin Group was broadcast in South Africa I've watched it, and I never ever, and mean, never, missed an episode over the past 9 years - first on television, and then later on YouTube where I would religiously download every episode in high definition and watch it very late very Sunday night.

It was packed with humour. The McLaughlin Group was parodied over the years, it popped up in popular culture like the film Watchmen, and also did something for the current film, Independence Day: Resurgence, for instance:

What made The McLaughlin Group different from all other modern-day political shouting heads is that they shouted and argued, but that you could see they were actually friends and had respect for one another, despite their political and ideological differences.

I was amazed, and remained amazed every single week, over the daunting and endless sacrifice in terms of sheer time, dedication and effort John McLaughlin and the panelists have put in over years doing this show, and reaching across the world, including someone like me, a South African TV critic, who appreciated it enormously for what it was.

In March this year I told of how The McLaughlin Group is on my list of guilty TV pleasures - among the countless hours of television I (have to) watch every day and week and month, a bit of the rare television that I honestly enjoyed watching incredibly much.

The McLaughlin Group was the most cerebral singular half hour of television I indulged in weekly.

I will miss John McLaughlin's esoteric comments, the bickering panelists making their cases and the entire show for what it was immensely.

Rest in peace, John McLaughlin.

The low-rated transgender reality show, I Am Cait, with Caitlyn Jenner on E! Entertainment cancelled after just 2 seasons.


The low-rated reality show I Am Cait on E! Entertainment (DStv 124) following the transgender journey of Caitlyn Jenner and produced by Bunim/Murray Productions has been cancelled after just two seasons.

Caitlyn Jenner will return to the original franchise, Keeping Up with the Kardashians where she formerly appeared as the dad Bruce Jenner.

"We are incredibly proud of the two seasons of I Am Cait, a groundbreaking docu-series that sparked an important and unprecedented global conversation about transgender people, their struggles and triumphs," says E! Entertainment in a statement announcing the cancellation.

"Caitlyn and E! have mutually decided not to move forward with another season at this time.  She will always remain a part of the E! family, and we look forward to continue following her journey as she appears on Keeping Up with the Kardashians".

In May MultiChoice and NBCUniversal International Networks decided to censor and take away the show for all African viewers by removing all remaining episodes of the second season of I Am Cait from E! Entertainment's single African channel feed on DStv, following complaints by Nigerians.

MultiChoice and NBCUniversal International Networks' censorship move, taken on Africa Day - the second such shocking "one size must fit all" censorship move specifically around a show with a transgender theme - has set a dangerous and growing precedent around what television material MultiChoice in Africa and its channel partners don't want and won't show its paying DStv subscribers.

Caitlyn Jenner will appear in the upcoming third season of the transgender drama series from Amazon, Transparent, that is being shown by M-Net on the M-Net Edge (DStv 102) channel throughout Africa.

Johnny Flynn, Geoffrey Rush to play young, old versions of Albert Einstein in National Geographic Channel's first scripted TV series, Genius.


The South African born actor and musician Johnny Flynn and Geoffrey Rush will play a young and old version of Albert Einstein in National Geographic Channel's (DStv 181) first scripted TV series entitled Genius.

The first season of the Genius anthology series is based on Walter Isaacson's Albert Einstein biography, Einstein: His Life and Universe, and production will start next month (September) in Prague.

As with several other FOX channels and National Geographic Channel shows the past two years, the Albert Einstein series with 10 episodes will start in South Africa and 170 other countries on the National Geographic Channel simultaneously in 2017.

The Albert Einstein drama will tell the story of a young Albert Einstein, years before he rose to fame - a period during which he was a lowly patent clerk who couldn't get an academic job, and long before his famous research and equations.

Each episode of Genius will explore Albert Einstein's scientific achievements, along with his volatile, passionate and complex personal relationships.

"The caliber of the Genius cast lives up to the show's title," says Carolyn Bernstein, the executive vice president and head of global scripted development and production at the National Geographic Channel.

"The supremely talented Geoffrey Rush is dream casting for the role of Albert Einstein, and Johnny Flynn not only is an incredible talent but also bears more than a passing resemblance to Rush."

"National Geographic's unwavering commitment to excellence and their support and passion for this project has helped us attract talent such as Geoffrey and Johnny. My excitement for this project grows every day, and I cannot wait to get started," says executive producer Ron Howard in the statement, who will also be the director of the first episode of Genius.

OpenView HD dumps its former Afrikaans channel ASTV; will go dark on 14 October for failure to meet 'content and performance criteria'.

OpenView HD has dumped ASTV, with the Afrikaans TV channel that didn't meet its content and performance criteria that will go dark on 14 October on the OpenView HD platform just three years after it was added in October 2013.

ASTV will remain available on StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media's (ODM) StarSat satellite pay-TV platform.

ASTV's culling from Platco Digital's OpenView HD is however a big set-back and an embarrassment - especially since it was actually acquired by Sabido Investments (now eMedia Investments) in mid-2014 with big fanfare and the news launched with a media event.

While the former CEO of e.tv, Marcel Golding saw potential in ASTV, ASTV says the channel's contract was ended with eMedia early in 2015.

The contract was ended just a few months after Mark Rosin and Antonio Lee took over following the ugly and acrimonious corporate ousting of Marcel Golding and his wife, Bronwyn Keene-Young as COO.

ASTV's channel head, Jaco Ferreira, in a statement, says despite "talks of a new Afrikaans TV channel with which ASTV would have merged, nothing came of it after months of meetings".

"Due to unsuccessful negotiations, ASTV was sold back to the original shareholders during November 2015. ASTV was however still given the opportunity to continue broadcasting on the OVHD platform".

ASTV was told on 2 August that the channel is getting dumped from OpenView HD.

ASTV says that after a meeting on 10 August with OpenView HD's group channel and acquisitions executive, Ziyanda Mngomezulu, ASTV still tried in vain to persuade OpenView HD to keep ASTV on the platform, but according to ASTV, OpenView HD kept to its decision to kick the channel off.

"ASTV has always had a great relationship with OpenView HD, Platco Digital and e.tv. It was especially the case during the time when Marcel Golding was still involved," says ASTV in its statement.

"Unfortunately OpenView HD no longer sees a place for ASTV on their decoder," says ASTV, adding that "during the time of carriage on OpenView HD, ASTV advertised the company [OpenView] and lured thousands of customers to the platform".

"These days there is however an obstacle from OpenView HD's side in terms of the availability of decoder stock in stores," says ASTV.

"Currently disheartened customers must return home empty handed since there's not enough stock available. It's therefore with big regret that we have to end our broadcast on OpenView HD from 14 October because of the aforementioned reasons," says ASTV.

ASTV says it will remain available on OpenView HD competitor StarSat, and that a big benefit is that "there's exists no costs to broadcast on StarSat".

"StarSat is also willing to make the necessary investments in ASTV that will ensure more better quality entertainment".

In response to a media enquiry, Ziyanda Mngomezulu of OpenView HD confirms to TVwithThinus that "ASTV will be coming off OpenView HD. The channel did not meet our content and performance criteria. OpenView is continually looking at refreshing its channel offering".

Comedy Central dumps The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore; host says he's 'saddened' by the 'unblackening' of late-night television.


Comedy Central (DStv 122) has dumped the low-rated The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore after just a year and a half after struggling to lure viewers, with the last episode that will be on Thursday.

"Unfortunately, it hasn't connected with our audience in ways that we need it to," says Comedy Central president Kent Alterman.

"We stuck with it for a year and a half but ultimately we didn't feel that we see enough traction to justify doing another year".

Larry Wilmore said he's saddened by what he calls the "unblackening" of late-night talk on American television.

"I'm really grateful to Comedy Central, Jon Stewart, and our fans to have had this opportunity, but I'm also saddened and surprised we won't be covering this crazy election, or 'The Unblackening' as we've coined it. And keeping it 100, I guess I hadn't counted on 'The Unblackening' happening to my time slot as well."

Before Larry Wilmore got The Nightly Show, he was the Senior Black Correspondent on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.

There's no plan for him or any of The Nightly Show contributors to move to The Daily Show now done by Trevor Noah.

The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore was created and executive produced by Jon Stewart and Larry Wilmore.

SABC staff must now request approval for all international trips from the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, and say how it will benefit the government.


Shocked SABC staff were informed by email today (Tuesday) that effective immediately, they have to apply for approval for all international trips from the minister of communications, Faith Muthambi, and will have to explain how it will benefit the government and report back within 7 days after any international trip.

In the notice also sent to TVwithThinus, SABC staff were told that they must now "submit formal requests for all international trips to the minister for approval effective immediately".

SABC staffers who want to travel internationally must motivate their trip to the minister of communications and must explain why it will be good for South Africa and the South African government.

SABC staff are told in no uncertain terms that "no approval or bookings can be confirmed nor issued" if it hasn't been approved by the minister.

They will also have to report back, if they've traveled abroad, within 7 days.

"The SABC is already not in a position to react quickly to big events because of too many 'gatekeepers' and the computer system through which all financial transactions and also money for shoots and productions needs to be pushed and approved. And now this," said a source.

Also on Tuesday, parliament's portfolio committee of communications, tasked with oversight of the beleaguered South African public broadcaster, decided that a full-scale parliamentary inquiry into the ongoing litany of SABC crises was necessary and urgent.

Humphrey Maxegwana, chairperson of the committee and other members, expressed support for such an inquiry and said that a request would be dispatched to parliament's chair of chairs, Cedric Frolick.

WARNING. How Telkom's shocking new call tariff increase shows exactly how you will pay much more if MultiChoice lets you choose your own channels.


The shocking move of Telkom to massively hike the tariff price of over 100 international call types is a stark warning and a perfect example of what will happen, why it will be bad, and exactly how bad it will be, if MultiChoice should ever let DStv subscribers "choose and pay only for the channels they want".

Besides griping over "too many repeats" - although study after study shows that in 2015 there was an avalanche of more original hours of TV content than ever before and with 2016 that will again surpass 2015 - the second pet peeve of DStv subscribers in South Africa and across the African continent is a clamouring for wanting an "a la carte" model.

DStv subscribers' argument is that, surely just like Kellogg's Fruit Loops on the store shelf, if I want and demand a box of just orange, or just blue, or just orange and blue fruit loops instead of the multi-coloured box, I'm entitled to it.

Erroneously calling it "pay per view", DStv subscribers say they're tired of being forced to watch TV channels they don't watch and don't want. They can't understand why they're forced and "locked in" to pay for TV channels as part of bloated packages they don't want.

DStv subscribers argue that it would be cheaper, and that they will save money monthly by picking and choosing only the separate TV channels each one of them actually cares for and wants to watch.

They want to build their own customized bouquet, ringing up a monthly charge like a restaurant or hospital bill, consisting of only the individually-priced TV channel "items" they want to pay for - none of that Pawn Stars on History, or the trashy Kardashian stuff if E! Entertainment isn't something that you're personally interested in.

Pay-TV subscribers want to break gym access, the hotel breakfast buffet, vegetable soup and the water colour paint set - all in essence one intrinsically linked service or product with a combined value proposition - into individually monetised parts.

Unhappy pay-TV subscribers who wants to pay for "only the channels I want", want gym membership priced for just the use of the dumb bells (the gym has to pay its operational costs and overheads whether you use one piece of equipment, or 6, or all), and the ability to buy a water colour paint set with just dollops of blue and red and the rest of the plastic pack empty.

Surely that's not too much to ask?  

It's not so straight-forward - and Telkom's shocking shift to give people calling international numbers exactly that, is indicative of exactly how much worse off the average pay-TV DStv subscriber will be if MultiChoice starts to do the same.


What Telkom secretly just did by massively hiking over 100 international call tariffs is an excellent explainer and predictor of what will happen if MultiChoice gives foolish DStv subscribers exactly what they want: the ability to only pay for the channels they select.

Telkom just hiked over 100 individual international call rates by massive amounts. A call to Australia for instance that used to cost R0.72 per minute jumped to a whopping R20.11 - basically 2 700% more.

Now you have to call the Netherlands from Telkom for R57 per minute - or dail a Swedish number through Sweden's Fix Paging at an astronomical R298.40.

Where calls to the UK Freephone was 53c per minute, it's now shot up to an eye-watering R31,85 per minute.

But why?

It's because Telkom now charges much more for several "premium-rated, low-volume lines" in accordance to what those individual lines actually cost.

Telkom says it has been undercharging for international calls to certain destinations and had to change to recover its costs. Telkom says that in the past it charged all callers a single rate, despite operators charging it different wholesale rates.

Telkom says "while operators charged different wholesale rates, Telkom effectively absorbed the risk by charging a single rate to its own customer".

"Telkom has had to apply the actual international call cost, along with Telkom's own wholesale and retail costs".

Telkom is now charging individual callers, making specific international calls, the specific price of the cost of that specific call. 

There is no longer a "cross-subsidy" happening where the benefits of the overall bundling of the mere existence of the service that Telkom provided, is used to in a sense benefit everybody who wants to make use of it.

Previously, Telkom grouped multiple operators in a single country together for one price (a single rate) to callers. Now, Telkom broke that up, making individual callers pay the individual cost of that call according to a specific operator's price, plus what Telkom adds to make a profit. 

These few cursive sentences are incredibly important, because it's exactly what MultiChoice will say is the reason, and will do, if it's forced to, or decides to offer DStv subscribers the ability to each pick and choose their own TV channels.

How the existing pay-TV model works (and what a lot of people who complain, don't understand or care to learn) is that MultiChoice's DStv is a bundled service - like the R5 access to your local municipal swimming pool.

For R5 you get access to the diving board (whether you want it or not, or only go to use that), the shallow and the deep end (irrespective of where you prefer to splash), and the little always-lukewarm (and we know why) baby pool (irrespective of whether you use it or not) to everyone's benefit for as long as you want to.

When I go to the Ratanga Junction theme park, the entry fee I pay for entertainment (although high), is for all rides - whether I use all rides or only use one, or just a few.

The income from the thousands of visitors make it possible to "spread" the cost of providing the encapsulated rides and experiences. If I just went on the Cobra rollercoaster, a premium ride, I'd max out after maybe just 4 rides equal to the price of admission, if the Cobra was priced as an individual ride, on a pay-per ride basis.

Yet everybody - with one of the few broadly applied admission fees - can enjoy the park to a greater degree, and cheaper, than what it would have been if every single visitor was forced to pay per differently priced, individual ride. 

Now let's look at what will happen - just like Telkom now did - if you start paying a more "just" parity price for your pay-TV service, just for what you want to use, because, as critics argue, it would be "more fair".

If premium channel A costs MultiChoice R5000 (let say SuperSport), but it has less interest, meaning it's a premium-rated but low-volume channel that only 100 DStv subscribers want and subscribe to, MultiChoice must recover the entire channel cost from only those people (because it can't run and provide it at a loss).

It means R5000 divided by 100 = R500.

If a non-premium, yet high-volume channel B also costs R5000 (lets say Mzansi Bioskop) but 1000 people want it, the cost is only R5.

"Wonderful," say the charge-me-for-my-separate channels pay-TV subscribers. "I will choose and subscribe to 20, maybe 100, of the R5 channels".

Well, that is possible. 

And yes, some pay-TV subscribers will get a lesser monthly bill. But their type of TV - the quality and scope - will be greatly reduced. By far, the larger majority of pay-TV subscribers will end up paying more than what the case is currently for exactly the same, or less, content.

Why? Because you've lost the power of bulk buying, the guaranteed number of subscribers taking and getting a certain channel, that helps to offset the cost of carrying that channel.

Did you know that some TV channels on DStv - lets take for instance BBC Earth and BBC First - are already not available in some countries like Kenya?

Why you ask? Because already - even in the existing packaged, bundled buy that lumps thousands of Kenyan subscribers together - there's not enough subscribers to make it financially feasible.

Imagine if channels are not made available in must-take collections and Kenyan subscribers can individually choose. The irony is that their "more choice" will become a smaller choice, since the number of available TV channels out of which to pick from, will shrink even more.

Pay-TV is called pay-TV for a reason. It's not charity in the form of the Salvation Army. By picking only the individual TV channels you want, you will quickly end up paying more. A lot more.

The premium channels - those ones you want with the live sports, the hottest new seasons of can't miss shows, the 24-hour TV news and the latest movies - they will cost the most.

And as more and more people opt out of taking them because they're too expensive (or any unpopular channel for that matter), those people still choosing that channel, will end up collectively paying even more. 

Keep in mind that the price of a channel will be dependent on dividing up the price that it costs to provide that channel.

Also keep in mind that if not enough people watch (and pay) for that individual channel - it will die or disappear, and much, much quicker that what it took for Animax to come and go on DStv.

It's exactly the same way that Telkom now allows you to call Equatorial Guinea or Lithuania if you want, but at an even more exorbitant cost to just you, now directly linked to what that call actually costs them.

Be grateful that you can subscribe to something like a DStv Compact for instance, where the same package, of the same curated channels, is sold to literally millions of customers, making the bigger range of channels possible in the first place.

It is the power of that collective scale that makes it possible for the number of subscribers to be leveraged to include a level and quality and quantity of content that would cost the individual subscriber a lot, lot more if extracted and payed for as itemised billing.

Below is a joke "what if" example if a restaurant "a la carte" bill looked like a hospital bill where you're being charged for every smallest imaginable thing and a litany of service charges.

Ask yourself" is this really how you would rather your pay-TV account look when you get the greater consumer freedom and power and joy of picking only your TV channels?

MultiChoice dumps the downgraded Trace Sport Stars channel from Trace Group after 4 years; replacing it with another music channel, TRACE Africa.


The downgraded Trace Sport Stars (DStv 188) from the Trace Group is getting dumped from MultiChoice's DStv at the end of the month just 4 years after it was added and will be replaced by the TRACE Africa channel in South Africa.

In West Africa, MultiChoice is adding the TRACE Naija channel on channel 325, and in East Africa MultiChoice is adding TRACE Mziki on channel 323 on DStv.

Trace Sport Stars - a type of E! Entertainment meets sports stars - was added to DStv in April 2012 as the Trace Sports channel but never really popped or got buzz and struggled to bring viewers enough new content.

Trying to lift the meagre viewership, MultiChoice and Trace downgraded Trace Sport Stars in October 2014 by lowering the channel's premium only status - which for two years was only for DStv Premium subscribers - making it available to DStv Extra, DStv Compact and DStv Family subscribers.

Trace Sport Stars was added to StarTimes Media SA and On Digital Media's (ODM) StarSat satellite pay-TV platform at the same time.

In 2014  pay-TV operator Sky in the United Kingdom dumped Trace Sport Stars after just 2 years.

Now the under-performing Trace Sport Stars is getting chucked out with not even a month's notice to DStv subscribers; subscribers were told today that Trace Sport Stars is getting dumped at the end of August.

The Trace Sport Stars channel will remain on StarSat and is only being removed from MultiChoice's DStv.

StarSat tells TVwithThinus that Trace Sport Stars will remain available on its platform.

The channel, also carried on Platco Digital's OpenView HD (from eMedia Investments) will remain and continue on this free-to-air satellite-TV platform as well.

MultiChoice is adding TRACE Africa (DStv 326) from the Trace Group from 1 September as yet another music channel, and will sit alongside the existing TRACE Urban (DStv 325) channel.

Like Trace Sport Stars, TRACE Africa won't be a premium channel and will be available to DStv Premium, DStv Extra, DStv Compact and DStv Family subscribers in South Africa.

TRACE Africa will show music videos and documentaries as "a localised music channel" from established and emerging South African artists with music genres like Afro-pop, kwaito, house, rumba and others.

TRACE CEO Olivier Laouchez had nothing to say about the South African restructuring and changes and the dumping of Trace Sport Stars channel from DStv and the creation of TRACE Africa in South Africa.

The separate press release issued in the rest of Africa, however contains a drop-in quote from Olivier Laouchez, commenting on TRACE Naija for West Africa and TRACE Mziki for East Africa, saying: "TRACE is already the leading music brand in Africa".

"These 2 new localized music channels will help promote more artists from the two biggest music hubs of Africa and they will better serve the strong need of the local audiences for great local content".