I can report that eNCA (DStv 403) is shutting down its Beijing news bureau and shunting its longtime Asia correspondent John Bailey back to Johannesburg.
The shocking Beijing closure forms part of the South African 24-hour TV news channel's ongoing and dramatic international retraction of reporters who were stationed on the ground outside of South Africa's borders.
The baffling Beijing closure ties in to the ongoing and painful shuttering of the Sabido-owned news outfit's offices and news bureaux across the African continent, with the dramatic downsizing which has resulted in retrenchments since April and saw correspondents and on-air talent leave.
While eNCA warned in March that it is leaving Africa because that part of its news service has become unsustainable and that it will cover the rest of the continent with wire news and freelance reporters where big stories warrant it, nothing was said about its other news bureaux like London and Beijing - where the axe is now coming down.
eNCA insiders are scared and upset about the moves caused by budget constraints and fear the "dumbing-down" of the South African 24-hour TV news channel provided to MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform and which will celebrate its 7th anniversary next month since it launched in June 2008.
While eNCA's China bureau chief John Bailey is for instance forced to return home, insiders point to eNCA apparently working on a new showbiz programme to be introduced soon to try and lift ratings, presented by Tanya Nefdt and Amy MacIver with Sally Burdett as producer. eNCA has not yet responded to a media enquiry asking about this development.
South African TV news channel rivals already pad their schedules with entertainment shows like ANN7 (DStv 405) with Star Biz and Sizzle and SABC News (DStv 404) with Afro Showbiz News.
In response to a media enquiry eNCA confirms its shutting down its Beijing bureau, saying John Bailey will be returning to South Africa and continue working for eNCA in the Johannesburg office.
"The closing of the Beijing bureau formed part of the reationalisation of the Africa division and will close at the end of June. eNCA will continue to cover China and the region through freelance reporters in the area," says eNCA.