SCREEN AFRICA EXCLUSIVE: South African free-to-air commercial channel e.tv is significantly increasing its local drama output by commissioning 52 episodes of eKasi: Our Stores, the popular Monday night drama series, effectively making it a movie of the week slot.

In addition, Mzansi Love returns for a second season with 13 episodes, while the soapie Scandal will increase from four days a week to five days as from 5 July.

New local programmes to broadcast later in the year include a game show based on an international format and a home-grown reality show featuring three high profile, glamorous personalities who will travel the Gauteng province doing good deeds for people in need. The latter is positioned as an inspirational show that will hopefully motivate viewers to do positive things in their communities.

No further details about the new shows are available at this stage other than that the game show is being produced in Cape Town, in line with e.tv’s drive to commission programming outside the Gauteng Province.

The above programme information was revealed at an informal media gathering held on 15 May in Johannesburg.

Commenting on the changes relating to Scandal!, e.tv’s manager of Local Productions Keshni Rajoo said: “We’re doing big things with Scandal! because the brand is growing a lot. Therefore the writing team is coming up with innovative and layered storylines to keep viewers hooked every day of the week.

“eKasi: Our Stories has proved phenomenally successful with our audiences. We started the series in 2009 with just five dramas which grew to 13 for season 1. The commission has now grown to 52 episodes for season 5 this year. The new series will be shot on HD but down-converted to SD for broadcast until e.tv’s digital channels are up and running.”

Rajoo noted that eKasi was designed to be a developmental initiative for the local industry. The first series commissioned a single production company and this year will see seven companies in production with drama commissioned from Limpopo and Western Cape. For each new season a national call for scripts is issued.

She continued: “e.tv supplies the cameras to the production companies and pays for post-production. We also hold script and technical workshops for the companies prior to production. eKasi is our way of giving back to the industry. It’s one of our top-rated series and performs consistently.”

Returning local series include the dance crew talent search reality show, Step Up or Step Out, and Rolling with…. The subject of the latter will be revealed closer to the show’s broadcast.
e.tv recently launched Cooking Gospel, its first-ever Gospel-themed cooking show.

Head of Channels Monde Twala revealed that e.tv has renewed deals with suppliers of movies and sports programming, including UAFA, EFC, etc.

“We are also introducing boxing for the frist time to e.tv and will broadcast matches from a premium boxing league, in partnership with the Eastern Cape Provincial Department of Sports. Boxing as a sport needs to be re-energised in South Africa,” explained Twala.

According to Rajoo, e.tv’s local content quota at the end of December 2012 was 47.9% which is above the requirement set by regulator ICASA. The channel has 17 million viewers, which makes it the second most watched channel in South Africa after SABC1, which has a bigger footprint and 22 million viewers.

Source: ScreenAFrica – Joanna Sterkowicz