MultiChoice announces new 24-hour channel to replace Manyi's Afro Worldview

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MultiChoice on Tuesday announced Newzroom Afrika as the new black-owned 24-hour news channel on satellite service DStv's bouquet, after the group decided not to renew its contract with Mwanele Manyi's Afro Worldview.

Yolisa Phahle, the CEO of M-Net, said the winning bidder was a new entrant and had "met all qualifying criteria".

The two directors of little-known company are Thokozani Nkosi of production company Eclipse TV, and Thabile Ngwato of Rapid Innovation, who previously worked as a news anchor at the SABC. 

Ngwato left the public broadcaster earlier this month. In a media statement, the SABC said she was leaving to "pursue business interests after five successful years of producing and presenting news at the SABC".

MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela said on Tuesday the selection process was "fair and thorough". 

"Today marks the birth of an exciting new and independent media voice in South Africa. We set out to find a quality new, black-owned, independent news channel to expand the diversity of SA news and enrich our democracy – we’re excited by the outcome," Mawela said.

"Independent, trustworthy media are essential to a healthy democracy and the calibre of journalists on the Newzroom Afrika team will ensure that this new channel plays its part with distinction.

"The Eclipse TV and Rapid Innovation teams have a track record of entrepreneurial success. They will be supported by an editorial team that will deliver independent views of events unfolding in South Africa and around the world, while the owners concentrate on running the business successfully.

Ngwato, in a statement released on Tuesday, said the company is "committed to provide independent and dependable reporting, and will deliver that through our strong editorial team."

“We’ll be sharing further details about the channel in the coming weeks,” she said. 

Afro Worldview 

Afro Worldview was known as ANN7 when it was owned by the Gupta family's Infinity Media. ANN7 launched in August 2013. 

The news channel and Gupta-owned newspaper The New Age, which was owned by TNA Media, were sold to a firm owned by Mzwanele Manyi in August 2017 in a vendor financing deal, as the Gupta family struggled to get banks to keep doing business with them. 

Manyi rebranded ANN7 as Afro Worldview and The New Age as Afro Voice. 

In late January MultiChoice announced that the news channel’s contract will not be renewed when it lapses in August 2018. 

More than 60 companies launched bids for the 24-hour television slot, including Afro Worldview, the operator said. 

In mid-July, Manyi submitted court papers seeking the liquidation of Afro Voice, formerly known as the New Age. 

Staff at the Afro Worldview, meanwhile, were informed not to report for work from August 21. An employee told News24 earlier in the month that Afro Worldview management were awaiting the outcome of the bidding process

* Correction: A previous version of this article gave the name of the company as Newsroom Africa. It is written as Newzroom Afrika. 

* Fin24 is part of 24.com, a division of Media24, which is a subsidiary of Naspers.

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