Gupta Tv is good for SA's Untransformed Media

2013-08-23 19:11

The 22 of August marked history in South African television with the first broadcast of Africa News Network 7 (ANN7) 24 hour news channels. After reading some few newspaper articles about the new channel, one is forced to conclude that the same media ANN 7 will operate in rejects it.

I find this rejection highly problematic in a developing country like South Africa were the media remains untransformed in terms of ownership and the representation of different voices especially those of the poor.

The rejection of ANN7 or GUPTA TV as it is called by some newspapers is not only threatening to media freedom but also to transformation.

Our media continues to be owned by few large corporates who control newspapers, magazines and the internet. Television has only three players; the SABC, e.tv and MultiChoie. Print on the other hand is dominated by only four groups; Media 24, Independent News and Media, Avusa and the Caxton and CTP Group.

Twenty years after this country’s first democratic elections the average black ownership of SA media as at 2011 is 14% and women participation (at Board and management levels) is 4.44% (as presented by PMSA presentation).

If all these media owners are real advocates of freedom of expression and media freedom they should in my opinion welcome ANN7. ANN7 won’t only diversity but also transform news broadcasting that had only two players before it.

I understand however the concerns rose over its independence as the news channel is owned by the Gupta family who have close ties to President Zuma. Many see the channel is the mouth piece of the state. Some say it will be just another SABC.

But then we need to face reality; there is no such thing as “Media Independence” thus I always put it in quotation marks. There is always going to be someone, same family or some group who will own a TV station, a radio station even a magazine. Their ownership will directly affect what is and not published or broadcasted.

Of course, with ANN7 it’s obvious judging from The New Age what kind of content it will have. The same criticism the channel got is not different from the one SABC got when starting up its own 24hour channel.

What is good about both these news channels is that they are for South Africans, and we South Africans are able to judge for ourselves.

I also understand the concerns about quality and professionalism of the channels’ presenters and producers. I myself have seen and cringed when reading errors and misspelling in subtitles and names of some politicians Presenters are struggling to read the Teleprompter properly and the sound is not good.

ANN7 should have prepared itself in advance; now the quality of broadcast looks like they did not know they will start a new channel. For now it seems they were highly unprepared. Such poor journalism and lack of professionalism is unacceptable. And if its rejected on those grounds its understandable.

But I will fail to understand when its rejected simply because its owned by the Guptas as if other News Channels dont have owners.

As bad as it is I welcome it as a third 24/7 news broadcaster and still have my concerns about the media that does not penetrate to poor communities. All three of these channels are on DStv which is inaccessible to the poor.

ANN7 topped DSTV viewership charts one wonders how this will turn out as time goes.

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