Guptas launch 24-hour news channel

ann7A new 24-hour news channel was launched in South Africa on Wednesday, owned by a wealthy family close to President Jacob Zuma.

Africa News Network 7 (ANN7) will focus on “constructive, nation-building stories in the interests of building a culture of unity and pride”, according to its website.

ANN7 is likely to face an uphill battle for viewers as it joins the existing and established eNCA (DStv 403) and the SABC’s new 24-hour TV news attempt, SABC News (DStv 404) which launched at the beginning of this month.

Based in Johannesburg and employing more than 75 journalists, the channel is owned by the wealthy Gupta family who moved to South Africa from India.

The family own Sahara Computers and The New Age newspaper, which is considered pro-government.

“ANN7 heralds a new era in news broadcasting which will give South Africans access to both sides of stories of national importance,” said CEO Nazeem Howa, quoted by The New Age.

The well-connected Guptas sparked outrage in May after flying in wedding guests from India to a military base on the outskirts of Pretoria.

A probe found that Zuma’s name had been dropped to secure landing rights, but that he was not involved in the scandal.

ANN7 is the third round-the-clock TV news channel in South Africa and follows the public broadcaster SABC’s launch of a continuous service on 1 August.

The 24-hour private eNCA channel went live in 2008.

These three channels are broadcast on the satellite DStv pay service, which also carries several foreign news channels. DStv belongs to Naspers which has a media monopoly in South Africa.

Industry insiders and TV critics are of the opinion that ANN7 come with a certain level of perception problems due to who the financial backers of the new channel are and whether news will be politically slanted and it remains anyone’s guess as to whether viewers will gravitate towards ANN7’s news offering.

The ruling African National Congress welcomed the new network, saying it “trusts that it will play a constructive role in our national discourse”. – AFP