Bad news

With three lo­cal TV news chan­nels to choose from, we should be able to find com­pre­hen­sive, well-pre­sented in­for­ma­tion. Sadly, has news for you

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the rest of Africa will iden­tify with and watch. Its rat­ings de­pend on it. It’s the same rea­son SABC News dumped all other South African lan­guages and stuck with English. It will be in­ter­est­ing to see how it will jus­tify rolling lo­cal elec­tion cov­er­age, done in only one lan­guage, of an event that the bulk of its newly added au­di­ence doesn’t care to see. In­fin­ity Me­dia’s so-called Gupta-news ANN7 (DStv chan­nel 405) might well not still be around come elec­tion time, although its SA De­cides pro­gram­ming strand, pur­port­edly rep­re­sent­ing peo­ple’s views in an un­bi­ased way with hi­lar­i­ously bad pro­duc­tion val­ues, is back for a sec­ond sea­son.

ANN7’s con­tin­ual on-air mis­takes and bad pro­duc­tion val­ues – sound prob­lems, a carousel of chang­ing pre­sen­ter faces and bad news­read­ing skills – had a fur­ther set­back in late March. Peo­ple laughed and the ANC got an­gry at ANN7’s eye-rolling re­ports about an “al­leged plot” to top­ple Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma – at the same time as al­leged state cap­ture by the Gupta fam­ily dom­i­nated head­lines. ANN7 apol­o­gised for the bad re­port­ing, say­ing it had “erred”.

With three TV news chan­nels, South Africans might think they’re well cov­ered. The re­al­ity, how­ever, is a bit closer to the words of the Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist Eric Se­vareid who said: “The big­ger the in­for­ma­tion me­dia, the less courage and free­dom they al­low.”

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