The South African National Editors’ Forum (SANEF) notes the closure of Afro World View previously ANN7, shortly after the closure of the Afro Voice newspaper. Once again this has left many, particularly young black, journalists stranded in a hostile job-seeking environment.
SANEF notes the television channel, as was the case with Afro Voice, has been dogged by controversy. The newspaper was launched in 2010 and the channel came later in 2013. Both were owned by the controversial Gupta family, a family with close political and business ties to former President Zuma. Businessman and ex-government spokesperson, Mzwanele Manyi then bought the channel and newspaper from the family last year and attempted to distance both media operations from their past - but was ultimately unsuccessful.
When MultiChoice made their original decision in February this year not to renew ANN7’s contract, SANEF commented, “We hope that Multichoice’s decision was not influenced by the latest developments in the political landscape and by complaints by people who do not approve of the channel’s stated political preferences. Media freedom is sacrosanct and needs to be protected at all times against political or business interests.”
SANEF still stands by that comment.
Looking to the future, SANEF hopes that MultiChoice holds true to its promise to bring in new black voices when it makes its final decision on companies to replace Afro World View. SANEF believes we need credible channels to add to the diversity of the media landscape and the growth of our democracy. MultiChoice says it will announce the successful bidder on August 28. We look forward to this announcement.
Finally, as we stated when Afro Voice closed, journalists have been at the harsh receiving end of the paper’s chequered history and the wheeling and dealing of its owners and management – and this is also true for Afro World View. ANN7’s previous and present owners and also MultiChoice have not distinguished themselves in the handling of this unfolding saga.
This is not a chapter in our media history we should be proud of.