Former editor: Pro-Zuma line forced at ANN7

2013-09-02 09:24

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Johannesburg - A former ANN7 senior employee who resigned from the TV channel after its disastrous start said staff had been forced to take a pro-Jacob Zuma editorial line, it was reported.

Rajesh Sundaram, who came to South Africa from Delhi, India, three months ago to help launch the channel, says he is not willing to risk his reputation any longer.

He worked as a consulting editor.

Sundaram told the Mail & Guardian that he had been “lied to” by Atul Gupta's family and that they had forced him to show President Jacob Zuma in a flattering light.

He alleged that editorial policy at the channel is “dictated” to the journalists and editors.

He claimed that it is not intended to be overtly pro-Zuma, but the president’s detractors are to be shown in a less-than-positive manner.

“We were told that Julius Malema must be shown as an opulent person. Newer political parties were to be referred to as ‘mushrooming smaller parties’ without any political clout.

“We were also told to ignore the DA,” Sundaram alleged.

‘Never seen editorial interference like this’

He also claimed to have met with Zuma on three occasions as the president “wanted to see the technology we were using”.

“My conscience couldn’t take it anymore and I knew I had to resign. I have been a journalist for 20 years and I have never seen editorial interference like this.”

He said the launch that saw the ANN7 channel become a laughing stock on the internet could be blamed on the Gupta’s family’s rush to go live.

“I’ve been involved in start-ups and you have to do at least a month of dry runs before you go live. This was not done and to this day (two weeks after launch) some staff have still not been trained.”

Sundaram also said he feared for his life after an incident at the ANN7 offices in Midrand on Friday, where he was allegedly threatened by an armed bodyguard and later by another senior employee.

He also alleged that a burglary at the hotel where he was staying was connected to the Guptas and their TV channel.

He set to leave the country and return to India.
Read more on:    ann7  |  jacob zuma  |  atul gupta  |  media

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