eNews goes large in the UK

2012-08-11 16:11

South Africa’s eNews Channel is already piping live test broadcasts from their Hyde Park, Joburg, headquarters to Britain ahead of their launch in the UK later this month.

Their ambitious decision to buy a channel on the Sky News digital platform is just the first step in a 10-year plan to go global with both South African and pan-African news services.

Patrick Conroy, the channel’s group head of news, said the vision was to become the “Al Jazeera of Africa”.

But to succeed, eNews will have to change its name. It will also have to weather the impact of SABC’s latest 24-hour news offering on DStv, which launches in September.

City Press has also learnt of plans for a major new pan-African show that will see glamorous Sky anchor Lukwesa Burak move to Joburg to work from Hyde Park.

A potential 10.5 million Sky viewers in the UK will receive the eNews Channel feed daily – but it will now be called eNCA (eNews Channel Africa).

From 9pm until 11.30pm, UK audiences will see the Zambian-Zimbabwean Burak co-anchor a show called Africa Edition with Chris Maroleng, eNews’
Africa editor.

Local viewers will see the show on delay, from 11.30pm.

Conroy says that in the Africa Edition, the channel will test appetites for pan-African news both here and in the UK.

They hope to develop Africa Edition into a separate channel over time.

“What is clear is that the days of global newscasting are gone. You can be, at best, a regional player like Al Jazeera. We want to become an authentic news voice for sub-Saharan Africa,” said Conroy.

The news broadcast on e.tv will still be called eNews.

“We cannot leave these shores called eNews. It clashes with E! Entertainment and there are all kinds of trademark concerns there, as well as general brand confusion,” said Conroy.

The new name was determined by website addresses. He said: “We couldn’t call it ENC, because you can’t get three-letter URLs any more, the way CNN or BBC did. We’re too late. If you can’t get the URL, in the news game, it’s useless.”

As part of its strategy, eNCA will shuffle its line-up, with Iman Rappetti joining Jeremy Maggs as News Night anchor. The big news, though, is the acquisition of Burak.

A celebrity in the UK, she began her career at the BBC’s weather operation and moved to Sky in 2006, where she is World News anchor.

Contacted this week, Burak said her mind was made up after visiting eNews and Johannesburg recently, and getting a sense of how the operation was run.

“Although I left at a young age, the pull of Africa is something that has stayed with me ever since. A huge part of my family is still here,” said Burak.

Meanwhile, SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago remained tight-lipped about the public broadcaster’s 24-hour news service on DStv, saying details would be made available at a launch at the end of August.

“The idea is not to challenge eNews,” Kganyago said.

“We’ve signed a five-year deal with DStv in the interests of the public according to our mandate.”

He said the channel – which follows previous attempts SABC News International and SABC Africa – would set itself apart by providing news in several indigenous languages.

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