Kulani Nkuna
2 minute read
22 Apr 2014
6:00 am

Mzansi Magic boss: Isibaya just the beginning

Kulani Nkuna

Exciting times lie ahead in South African television as production companies and broadcasters vie for the attention of viewers.

QUALITY. The great acting on 'Isibaya' has proved pivotal in the soapie's success. Picture: Tracey Lee Stark.

The emergence of Mzansi Magic has raised a lot of questions about what it is that viewers really want when it comes to their television viewing. The channel introduced the telenovela genre to South Africa and has changed the game with the award-winning Isibaya.

But a large quality disconnection remains for the brand because when switching onto DStv channel 161, you are not guaranteed to find a quality production – as you could reasonably expect on DStv channel 101 (M-Net) for instance. While there are shows of high calibre, there are also shows that make viewers wonder how they made it past a commissioning editor.

Mzansi Magic’s developmental programme, which aims to find new talent and productions, is set to improve, according to new director for local interest channels Nkateko Mabaso.

“It is very important to find new talent and some of the movies that we carry have to do with the aim of developing new talent and making a contribution to the industry,” Mabaso says.

“The quality of these films is set to improve tremendously with bigger budgets and more investments in the films. The movies have provided good training ground for us and we have created employment through them, albeit only temporarily. We have also lengthened them from 60 minutes to 90 minutes.”

Rockville has been a success and has been on air for two seasons.

“We are a challenger brand in the context of television in general,” explains Mabaso.

“Our mantra is one that challenges the status quo. We define ourselves as creative warriors, because we need to be brave in order to win this against dominant players who have been around for many years. Thus far, we have managed to do some compelling creative work. Big Brother was a big success for us, and Clash Of The Choirs and Idols suggest that, in terms of big format reality shows, we are leading the industry. And Isibaya has been doing well along with Zabalaza and Rockville. We dominate Sunday viewing figures. Our mantra here is to be better than good enough and that is what informs our creative process.”

Mabaso is reluctant to confirm whether or not Rockville will be aired for a third season, but he says there are plans for the channel to expand on its dramatic offering.

“The second season of Rockville has just ended and we have had a great response from audiences,” Mabaso says.

“We still have to sit down and have a thorough analysis of how the season went and make a decision from there if we are going to have a third season or not. Drama is a good platform and performs very well in South Africa and we will be looking to bring more drama formats to the channel. We are currently in pre-production for other shows. Overall, we need to get a real sense of what the public wants. We need to understand our consumers and provide them with the content that they want to see on their screens.”