SONA2017: TV viewers could not believe their eyes

2017-02-10 12:38

PARADOX | From the red carpet to stun grenades, this was #SONA2017

2017-02-10 11:40

Once again, the honourable members of our parliament took the annual State of the Nation Address to the streets, and dragged us right along with them. Watch.WATCH

On Thursday evening South African viewers watched agape as the State of the Nation Address once again devolved into shocking visuals inside Parliament that included blatant sound censorship, a silent "F-you" from the SABC's sign language interpreter, refusal by the SABC to do split screens, and scorn for eNCA's bad red carpet coverage.

Media was also herded by riot police outside Parliament where a stand-off pursued and South African and world press were prevented from doing their jobs.

After the signal jamming at last year's SONA to try and silence the South African media, the sound was blatantly censored during #SONA2017 for TV viewers once the horrifying fighting inside Parliament and teargassing of politicians broke out and was seen worldwide on news channels like CNN International.

When Cope'sWilly Madisha spoke, all sound from the general assembly was cut off with viewers only getting silence on TV news channels like eNCA, who broadcasted the proceedings live from a pool feed in the National Assembly.

It's not clear who censored and switched off the sound but it wasn't the broadcasters. eNCA online apologised for the sound censorship, saying it's not them and an issue beyond the channel's control.

The silent 'F-you'

Meanwhile the SABC's stoic sign language interpreter was clearly not the fake one hired for Nelson Mandela's memorial service.

The SABC gave viewers the full-on silent treatment when the sign language interpreter on Thursday night did a "show and tell" of the filthy trash talk spewed inside the once stately general assembly where ANC members of Parliament started shouting "F you" at DA MP John Steenhuisen.

The SABC's singular focus

Kudos to South Africa's trusted public broadcaster for not being distracted by Patricia de Lille being pepper-sprayed, women being assaulted by riot police, media being prevented from doing their work and the sideshow circus elsewhere in and outside of Parliament.

While other broadcasters like eNCA and ANN7 went to split screens to show both President Jacob Zuma struggling through the reading of his State of the Nation Address, as well as shocking scenes in and around Parliament, the SABC solidly kept its camera focused on the president and his speech accompanied by some shots of sleepy politicians, unwavering in filtering out additional news noise.

Viewers only watching the SABC would get no sense whatsoever of what was happening simultaneously, the context of what is happening while Zuma sneezed and laughed and read as if nothing happened.

eNCA's red carpet cringe

Meanwhile the public dragged eNCA as criticism poured in for it's extremely amateurish and unprofessional SONA2017 red carpet coverage that became a cringe-worthy, bad view-fest damaging the credibility of eNCA's entire SONA2017 lead-up broadcast.

Interestingly, eNCA failed to issue any programming advisory or press release regarding its SONA2017 coverage plans, presenters, anchors and analysts as it did in previous years, and when asked about this earlier in the week in a media enquiry, failed to respond with details.

eNCA reporter Annika Larsen – usually doing hard news – was let loose on the red carpet with devastating results. eNCA didn't respond to a media enquiry seeking comment after viewers' reaction to the channel's red carpet coverage.

Highly awkward red carpet interactions ensued, with people saying that it's not Annika Larsen, who struggled to know and correctly identify politicians and others, but eNCA producers who should be carrying the blame.

It made for jaw-dropping viewing as Annika Larsen touched and basically "fashion interrogated" Parliament's choir conductor for instance in an embarrassing and awkward interview, exposing him for not really wearing Louis Vuitton.


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