Wednesday, November 5, 2014
Sabido claims eNCA positive government documentary series didn't compromise the TV news channel's integrity and credibility.
Sabido Investments, the owners of e.tv and the South African 24-hour TV news channel eNCA (DStv 403), says that a positive government documentary series broadcast earlier this year didn't compromise the TV news channel's integrity and credibility which is now sitting with a heavily tarnished reputation as a news brand.
e.tv and eNCA are mired in scandal after a bitter management meltdown which saw both its CEO Marcel Golding and then its COO Bronwyn Keene-Young abruptly quit last week claiming news interference.
The public in-fighting behind-the-scenes and shocking revelations of alleged editorial news interference through government as well as corporate executive pressure on the e.tv and eNCA news divisions has laid bare how the eNews and eNCA brands were badly compromised in what South Africans viewers thought were an independent TV news offering.
e.tv executives revealed that they came under increasing pressure to cover positive government news spin regarding infrastructure development due to and in exchange for e.tv's behind-the-scenes lobbying efforts to get the government to side with e.tv in the contentious debate over whether set-top boxes (STBs) for South Africa's digital terrestrial television (DTT) switch must include an encryption system (which e.tv wants and the SABC and MultiChoice don't) or not.
Earlier this year eNCA suddenly broadcast a glowing documentary series about South Africa's infrastructure development. eNCA didn't indicate at the time to viewers whether the series was paid for in full or in part by the government. The department of economic development is however using the documentary series as commercials, calling it "PICC TV adverts".
Sabido Investments - asked whether the documentary series is an advertorial or commercials, and whether the government paid for these documentaries and funded it or whether eNCA and e.News produced these out of the broadcaster's own budget - didn't answer the specific questions, but says "government officials were not involved in determining the content of the reports" and that "the news department retained full editorial control of the series".
In a statement given to TV with Thinus instead of specific answers to a series of questions, Mark Rosin, the group chief operating officer (COO) says the series "is not documentaries as has been erroneously reported" but that it's part of a broader project to reflect on 20 years of democracy which eNCA has done throughout the year.
Mark Rosin says that "at the time it was agreed to sell advertising airtime to Brand SA, and these adverts ran independently of the news reports" and that "news management were not involved in the sale of advertising. This was done by the commercial time sales department. It was the job of the news team to produce the series only and they were instructed to report impartially".
Mark Rosin says "it is understandable and also regrettable that perceptions were created of editorial influence and control" and that "as a result of the above, Sabido will do its utmost to avoid that such perceptions are created again in the future".