South Africa'as only free-to-air commercial TV channel e.tv is dumping its eNews Prime Time new bulletin halfway in January, relaunching it Monday 18 January at 18:30 as eNews Direct with anchor Dudu Ramela who will literally walk and talk viewers through the "trending" news stories of the day.
In February last year Pat Pillai left eNews Prime Time. In March e.tv and eNews added its half hour Zulu TV news bulletin from the eKasi+ channel on OpenView HD, eNews Izindaba at 18:30 and moved its primetime news bulletin to 20:30.
The move turned out to be a big failure for both timeslots and both news programmes which suffered in the ratings and dragged down e.tv viewership.
E.tv said market research afterwards showed that viewers want to see the main English bulletin earlier.
After struggling to lift news ratings, e.tv's latest news bulletin tinkering involves relaunching and rebranding its primetime news bulletin to eNews Direct from tonight.
On weekends eNews Prime Time is also changing to eNews Direct Weekend at 19:00.
Monde Twala, managing director of e.tv channels, says its prime time news bulletin's look and content must change its format and delivery in response to changing trends due to how South Africans have changed the way in which they consume news and information.
"eNews Direct is more for the on-the-go experiential viewer as it brings features that are trending and it is engaging with the viewer," says Monde Twala.
eNews Direct is described as a "distinct and innovate new bulletin" that will "deliver robust and contextually relevant news content in an unbiased manner", "news [that] is fast-paced, forthright and engaging, with news reports and news stories that are suitable for the modern-day busy and connected viewer".
eNews Direct will cover the key stories of the day as well as economic, sports and entertainment news, as well as weather.
Worried eNews insiders said the latest move is yet another indication of how e.tv is scaling back news output and the anchoring of news from Cape Town and out of e.tv's new Cape Town headquarters and studio.
e.tv in response to a media enquiry told TV with Thinus "it isn't true that news are no longer done and anchored in Cape Town and there hasn't been any downscaling".
Editor's note: This story was updated 4 hours later to correct the first sentence. It first started "relaunched tonight at 18:30 as eNews Direct" but has been changed to Monday 18 January at 18:30 as eNews Direct. The mistake in mentioning the wrong date was my editorial error.