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SHOWBUZZ (article first published : 2002-06-6)

Showbuzz has been running at 20h25 on Tuesday night on M-Net for nine weeks and has proved to be extremely successful. M-Net is delighted with the programme. They think that it dovetails very well with CineMagic and the vibrant, pacy quality of the show has elicited great reaction from their internal departments. The public response has been very good indeed. Most important of all, several managements have reported a significant improvement in their show bookings. TJ of Artslink (who has provided an excellent website) info@artslink;teejay@artslink;www.mnet.co.za - click on Showbuzz) has also reported a most positive response. Over 4,700 people visited our website for the first eight shows.

Showbuzz has another four shows scheduled 4,12,18,25 June and happily (and ironically) for the first time since we started, all of these shows are almost entirely booked up. However, our contract comes up for renewal after the 25 June and we need to decide within the next week or so whether or not we can continue.

Sadly, despite the extremely positive response from all quarters and the real support of a few managements, we have thus far had to run Showbuzz in a constant state of crisis. Despite the incredible offer of managements being able to advertise on prime-time television (with 14 other screenings on DSTV and the back-up of the website during that week) at rates comparable to newspaper adverts, it has been difficult to fill the show each week.

The theatre managements seem to be very reluctant to change their mindset on how to advertise their shows. Most of them seem to still regard Showbuzz as a LUXURY booking single slots instead of seeing it as the most inexpensive, cost-effective, ESSENTIAL way of advertising their show - and therefore booking slots for the duration of their season.

This has not only made it extremely expensive for us to shoot, edit, mix, and package each insert, but we believe the managements have lost out in not giving the television coverage a chance to make an impact for their show on the public. It is clear from the first nine weeks that managements who have had the courage to DIVERT some of their normal press adspend to plan and book a season of adverts on Showbuzz, have derived maximum benefit.

A thirty-second prime-time television advert imaginatively shot, packaged and screened on prime-time television 15 times for only R2,100 exc. VAT is unbeatable.

We need the assistance of all managements in deciding whether or not Showbuzz can and should continue after the 25th June (if M-Net allows us to). We personally feel that it would be a tragedy for theatre in general if the show stops, because we will lose forever this unique chance to regularly and properly advertise theatre on television.

However, we cannot afford to continue operating in crisis mode. Thus far, a significant portion of each weeks show has been supported by CATS and/or African Footprint. Both of these shows will be finishing soon. Since we are already battling to fill five minutes each week, this will exacerbate the position.

Further, we have been able to keep our heads above water by doing most of the filming of the slots ourselves. However, Bobby is commencing a ten week shoot at the beginning of July and so he (and the camera equipment) will no longer be available to record the segments. A camera crew costs about R2,500per day and unless we are confident of filling each show in advance we cannot afford this expense. M-Net have been working hard to try and find companies to at least part-sponsor Showbuzz but unfortunately, without success. Do you know of a company that might be interested? Do you have any other ideas?

Now its over to you. Do you want Showbuzz to continue? If so, please could you contact us urgently and let us know what shows you would be interested in advertising on Showbuzz between July and December. We would need an indication of how many slots you would be interested in pencil-booking with us and the exact dates. Please seriously consider diverting some of your traditional adspend to enable you (for your own good) to advertise your show (on prime-time television!) at least twice (or preferably several times), during your season

We guarantee that each screening of your slot will be different, fresh and exciting. Once we have an indication of whether or not we have sufficient interest for the show to carry on, we will approach M-Net to either continue or discontinue the programme.

It is incumbent on YOU to act now if Showbuzz is to survive. Please also contact any other production companies that may not be aware of the situation. Our discussions with numerous managements lead us to believe that everyone is very keen that the show survives, but that everyone assumes the other managements will keep it going! If you want Showbuzz, contact us now and get the others to do so, too.

Unless we get a really significant number of pencil-bookings, particularly for the months of July, August, and September, we will no longer be able to financially carry the show as we have been doing. If you want Showbuzz to continue, we look forward to hearing from you within the next week by either telephone, e-mail or fax. Its for you!

Kind regards, Bobby Heaney on 011 789-6888; 082 453-2111 or e-mail bobbycr@mweb.co.za or Jo da Silva on 011, 478-2652; 082 280-3880 or e-mail eckjo@icon.co.za




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