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SA gets a bunch of new TV executives

2014-03-20 05:30
Cape Town – You might hold the remote control, but they ultimately decide what you will get to watch, and South Africa’s TV industry is getting a whole lot of new TV executives while existing TV-bizzers are moving to even more influential new positions.

From M-Net to the SABC – and even international TV content giants and channel operators who are on a race to create new localised positions in South Africa’s burgeoning TV market – there will be several brand-new faces, and some older faces in new positions, from 1 April.

These TV executives not only hold sway over multi-million rand budgets but also decide what South African viewers will get to watch and who will be in it, when it will be seen and how it looks, where TV programming appears on schedules, as well as a litany of other far reaching decisions shaping South Africa’s fast-growing and developing TV landscape.

Permanent SABC TV channel heads again

The one big gap is the beleaguered SABC which doesn’t have a CEO and isn’t willing to say who is currently the acting CEO after Lulama Mokhobo dumped the organisation and resigned from the public broadcaster. The SABC refused to answer media enquiries asking who the acting CEO is.

The SABC’s TV division is however moving forward with three great appointments and finally getting back to greater stability with the appointment of permanent TV channel heads for SABC1, SABC2 and SABC3 which for a long time had a revolving door of acting channel heads at all three channels.

Permanent TV channel heads can make decisions quicker since they’re authorised to, can implement a definite vision and don’t need to look over their shoulders so much in an extremely fickle industry. The appointments should help to improve the quality of programming and schedules of the SABC’s three TV channels over time.

From 1 April Aisha Mohamed becomes the new permanent SABC3 channel head, Gerhard Pretorius will run SABC2 and Maijang Mpherwane (known in the industry as Sam Mpherwane) will head up SABC1.  Mohamed is from 5FM, while Pretorius and Mpherwane have been acting in the positions for the past months.

"We have confidence that these individuals will work well with their teams to continue to keep SABC Television the number one TV network in South Africa," says Verona Duwarkah, the SABC’s group executive for television.

BBC attracted to SA

The BBC is sending Joel Churcher (pictured above) who will start from 1 April in a newly created position in Johannesburg as the vice president and general manager for Africa.

BBC Worldwide which runs channels such as BBC Entertainment, BBC Lifestyle, BBC Knowledge and Cbeebies on MultiChoice’s DStv and elsewhere in the world, decided to create the dedicated new position since it sees "Africa as a priority market".

Several other international TV content and channel providers and distributors from FOX International Channels Africa (FIC Africa) to Trace, Viacom International Media Networks Africa (VIMN Africa) and China’s StarTimes have set up shop in South Africa the past few years with regional African offices and an Africa foothold – and more are coming. BBC Worldwide says Joel Churcher’s appointment and a new South African office is to help “capture future growth opportunities”.

Moving up at M-Net

Over at M-Net Yolisa Phahle is moving up as the CEO of M-Net South Africa from April, the first black woman in this position at the South African pay-TV broadcaster.

The violinist who joined M-Net in 2005 was the director for local interest channels at M-Net holding sway over TV channels ranging from Channel O to Vuzu and the growing number of Mzansi Magic channels.

Replacing her in turn from April is Nkateko Mabaso who joined M-Net in 2010 and who will become the new director for local interest channels in South Africa at M-Net.

“In his new position, reporting to Yolisa Phahle, Nkateko Mabaso will be a key leader of the South African team responsible for ensuring that M-Net delivers only the most relevant, most compelling content,” says Patricia van Rooyen, the CEO of M-Net Sub-Saharan Africa.

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