Why Media Peddled Minnie Dlamini's R6-million Wedding Deal Lie

I really didnt want to do this post just as I had ignored the initial report about Multichoice buying rights to Minnie Dlamini's wedding. I knew the information being shared and celebrated was inaccurate and I knew if I chimed in, it will just get messy. 

I know and expect that I will always get flack for not following the chorus on a lot of things in this industry. When you are the only one questioning things, I get why it may look like you are negative all the time. These days I have actually learned that when it comes to these celebs with a huge social media following, it is sometimes just best to shut up and let their fans believe everything the celebrity or media says. 

However, I am prompted now to address this Minnie Dlamini and Multichoice deal issue because it illuminates a problem that is eroding the trust between the media and the public. In these days of fake news, journalists can not afford to play games with information.

I know the line between tabloid and investigative journalism in the entertainment industry has completely disappeared in SA. Everyone is vying for the same clicks and social media attention online. So, what you and I would have considered serious publications are now reporting the same stories and using the same tactics as the former tabloids Sunday rags. 

These past couple of days media publications, from Sunday tabloids to reputable outlets like IOL and the blogs, have been reporting that Minnie Dlamini has signed a R6-million deal with Multichoice to broadcast her wedding special. 

First thing, any journalist who does his/her homework would have wanted to get a clear confirmation on that figure before running the story because the number in the local context does not make sense. Here's why; Big as Minnie Dlamini is as a celebrity, she is not a ratings puller that can guarantee a return on such an astronomical paycheque. 

A film budget for Multichoice in the top end of the spectrum is about R3-million and that includes the film's development. It is unlikely that Multichoice would pay Minnie Dlamini R6-million for a once off special.

Even with TV shows, Mzansi Magic commissioned drama series at R10 000 cpm for 26 episodes of 48 minutes in 2012 — five years later I doubt that number has gone up much. Drama gets a lot more money than most other genres. As off 2014, the general standard for Drama costs stands at about R13 000 a minute.

For a reality tv show back in 2010 they were asking for R8000 cpm on 13 episodes of 48min that means the production costs can't be that much. For those Mzansi Bioskop, dubbed "Bubblegum" films, Multichoice was paying R90 000 cost per episode. I understand that these days the budget is around R350 000.

Yes it's 2017 and Mzansi Magic is popular but Minnie's wedding is allegedly slated for Vuzu Amp which commands an even lower ratings pull which means its CPMs are very low for advertisers. It just would not make business sense for Multi Choice to even commit R3-million let alone 6 on a wedding special on Vuzu Amp. 

To cut the story short so this post is not too long; Both Multichoice and Minnie Dlamini's representatives have since rubbished the R6-million tag but confirmed that they have had negotiations.

Now this is where the shenanigans (or incompetence if you believe these moves are not intentional) of this new entertainment journalism come into play. Sunday World broke the story of R6-million for the wedding rights. They are a tabloid paper so you expect that they can be inaccurate at times. On Monday TshisaLIVE posts a rebuttal saying they spoke to both camps and the figure is false.

What is fascinating is that BOTH Sunday World and TshisaLIVE are owned by the same company, Times Media Group, and thus share the same resources.

Why didn't Sunday World get in touch with MultiChoice and Minnie's people before running the R6-million story? Clearly Times Media Group journalists have access to those parties hence TshisaLive was able to verify the figure. The information about the deal not being R6-million was available to them all along. I would not even be surprised if the stories were written by one person.

When you look deeper into the motivation for stories nowadays, it all makes. See, these days media companies have to make money on all platforms. They can not just depend on selling papers but have to have eye balls on their websites so they can sell advertising there too.

This is why you have a paper running a story and then its sister website runs the same story with added information as a rebuttal to the other story. So basically, Sunday World lies to you and TshisaLive corrects the lie — but at the end of the day the company has made money on both stories. It's a brilliant strategy. Dodgy but brilliant.

Unfortunately though that is also why the public has lost faith in journalism. Media companies are playing games with information for their own profit goals. These days with click baiting and fake news all over the place, you don't know who to trust anymore and when supposedly reputable media companies play these games with our trust we have nowhere to turn to but unverifiable sources on social media for news.

On the flip side, when someone like myself goes on Twitter to try and correct this inaccuracies or hold people accountable; I am called a hater or Mr Negative. Believe you me, if I had gone online on Sunday and questioned the validity of the R6-million deal just based on the commissioning fees pattern, those Twitter trolls would have gone in on me.

I know that fans on social media pander for RTs from celebrities that is why they will pretend to believe anything a celeb says or applaud everything they do. BUT I expect better from our entertainment journalist. I expect some level of professionalism and integrity. As explained above, I know why you do it but it is still f'd up. And you have lost our trust.

I have nothing against black excellence and achievement. I support my black creatives but what I refuse to sign up for is selling lies. All I ask is that we celebrate the truth. If we keep selling this false perception of how much money black celebrities make in South Africa we are not doing the industry any good. In fact it is the lies and the expectations created from the lies that are holding our black celebrities back.

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