News Dinner with Somizi: Presenter accused of intellectual property theft

Dinner with Somizi: Presenter accused of intellectual property theft

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Metro FM presenter Somizi Mhlongo has seemingly found himself in hot water after accusations that he stole the idea for his Dinner With Somizi cooking show have emerged. 

An email written to the Idols SA judge in 2014 by 31-year-old Hastings Moeng appears to outline a near identical pitch to the structure the hit show currently employs, and he has now sought legal council to help him claim royalties and credit he feels is rightly owed to him. 

Dinner with Somizi show ‘near identical’ to Moeng pitch

In his mail to Somizi’s then producer Legend Manqele in 2014, Moeng suggested that a “weekly talk show” called Dinner Kwa Somizi could entail “24-minute long episode captures” with “the drama that goes into preparing each meal as Somizi and his guest sweat it up in the kitchen before the actual sit down.”

“These 13 episodes will have a star-studded guest list of some of the most topical names in entertainment telling their stories in a never-seen-before- light,” it reads. 

He listed AKA, Denise Zimba, Dineo Ranaka, Itumeleng Khune, Jamie Bartlett and Lilian Dube as possible guests.

A powerpoint presentation was also sent to MultiChoice in 2014 in which a synopsis, format arch and proposed guests and sponsors were suggested. 

Moeng to take legal action against MultiChoice, Somizi  

Moeng has issued a legal letter to MultiChoice, the show’s broadcaster, via his attorney Mabu Marweshe. Marweshe confirmed to The Sowetan that his client is seeking recognition for his idea. 

“I can confirm that we act on behalf of Hastings Moeng and we gave issued a letter of demand to Multichoice. I cannot however divulge much … but my client is seeking recognition for his idea,” Marweshe  said.

The letter of demand also reportedly outlines that a meeting took place between Moeng had met Mhlongo in June 2015 at Dainfern Square, northern Johannesburg,  where “an agreement was reached that the idea was commercially viable and should be pursued”.

The Sowetan reported that MultiChoice spokesperson Benedict Maaga had said that all intellectual property matters relating to the show had been properly handled. 

“When content is commissioned from producers, as in this case, MultiChoice obtains undertakings that all intellectual property rights in relation to the show have been cleared. We reached out to Mr Moeng a week ago to discuss the matter and we await his response,” Maaga said, adding that Somizi was being engaged and that the claims would have no impact on the airing of the show.

Social media divided  

Social media has been divided by the allegations, with some saying that the alleged intellectual property theft is “evil”, while others have accused Moeng of trying to capitalise on Somizi’s success. 

“He forgot one crucial slide in his deck,” wrote one Twitter user of Moeng’s complaint.

“Why him? What does he bring to the dinner table (had to) besides coming up with the idea? Evidently nothing, because they went on without him. It’s the hard truth, in my humble opinion.”

The South African has reached out to MultiChoice, as well as Marweshe for further comment and will update this story when it lands.

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