Cape Town – The new South African TV news channel Newzroom Afrika plans to launch on Thursday, 2 May with news talent including former eNCA journalists Cathy Mohlahlana, Thulasizwe Simelane, and Karyn Maughan, who have jumped to front-face the new channel.
While MultiChoice and Newzroom Afrika executives in August 2018 when they announced the successful news channel bidder promised to keep the media updated on the channel's progress towards its "early-2019" launch, nothing had been forthcoming.
"We'll be sharing further details about the channel in the coming weeks," said Thabile Ngwato in the MultiChoice press release that was issued on 28 August 2018 but that was eight months ago, and Newzroom Afrika failed to share details with the media.
Johannesburg - At a press conference in Johannesburg on Tuesday MultiChoice announced the successful bidder that will replace 24-hour news channel Afro Worldview. Formerly known as the controversial ANN7, Afro Worldview's contract with the pay TV operator had been terminated in August, leaving staff at the channel in limbo .
Thabile Ngwato's Rapid Innovation and Thokozani Nkosi's Eclipse TV are behind Newzroom Afrika that will directly compete against rivals like eNCA (DStv 403) and SABC News (DStv 404) in a highly-contested TV space for eyeballs and advertising rands and where eNCA lures more than 50% of the combined and existing TV news channels' audience on DStv.
Last week when asking MultiChoice in a media enquiry whether Newzroom Afrika will be launching on 2 May, Benedict Maaga, MultiChoice spokesperson, said MultiChoice couldn't confirm any dates.
Newzroom Afrika suddenly announced on Monday evening that it will be going live on Thursday late-afternoon.
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Although missing its "early-2019" launch date, its second quarter activating means that Newzroom Afrika will try to gain viewers in the few days remaining to do pre-election coverage in the lead up to South Africa's national elections on 8 May.
On Thursday Newzroom Afrika, will take over the open channel spot on channel 405 on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service left vacant after it axed the controversial Gupta family's ANN7 channel that was acquired by Mzwanele Manyi and rebranded as Afro Worldview until it shut down in August last year.
While the programming line-up, content and on-air talent of Newzroom Afrika isn't known, other media talent who will be involved with Newzroom Afrika include some established radio and TV voices and faces including several Power FM name-brands.
Newzroom Afrika on Monday night listed Liezle Wilson, Thami Ngubeni, Sizwe Dhlomo, Gugulethu Mhlungu, Natasha Thorp, Thabo Mdluli, JJ Tabane, Thokozani Nkosi, Ayabonga Cawe, Aubrey Masango, Marc Lewis, Jacob Moshokoa, Bongiwe Zwane, and the former Afro Worldview editor Mpho Sithole as now being a part of the TV news channel.
According to the DStv electronic programme guide (EPG), Newzroom Afrika programming will include a morning news show, Breaking Dawn, with presenters Dhlomo, Carmen Reddy and Mhlungu. Other programming will be shows like Newzfeed and Business Unusual.
As Thursday's 2 May launch date looms for Newzroom Afrika, DStv Media Sales, MultiChoice's advertising selling arm, apparently entered into a commercial partnership with Newzroom Afrika from 24 April to sell on-air advertising on behalf of the channel.
In March 2019 Newzroom Afrika started a recruitment process looking for reporters, producers, editors and people to fill various other positions.
Insiders last week said they hope that Newzroom Afrika will be able to sidestep the mistakes of ANN7's disastrous on-air launch that immediately went viral with lasting damage to that channel's credibility.
With Wednesday's Workers' Day as a public holiday in South Africa and the odd launch date the day after, there's been no word from either MultiChoice that was asked, nor Newzroom Afrika about a possible press briefing about the news channel, or of a media launch event to mark its start on DStv as usually happens when new TV channels launch.