How MultiChoice will make sure Newzroom Afrika doesn’t become another ANN7

MultiChoice will host a new South African news channel called Newzroom Afrika, replacing Afro Worldview (formerly ANN7) which stopped broadcasting on 20 August 2018.

Responding to questions at a media briefing, MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela confirmed that Newszroom Afrika will be on DStv channel 405.

The channel will be available to all DStv subscribers, added Mawela.

No firm launch date for the new channel has been announced, and Newzroom Afrika co-owner Thokozani Nkosi said they are currently finalising the launch plan.

They hope to launch in early 2019, added Nkosi.

Critical news coverage

MultiChoice announced at the end of January 2018 that it would not renew then-ANN7’s contract, and would open a bidding process for the channel that would replace it.

According to Mawela, they were overwhelmed by the response and received 111 expressions of interest to provide the channel for DStv.

MultiChoice specified in its bid that the news channel must be owned, managed, and run by a black South African company. It must also be free from any political or other interference, and provide non-partisan and critical news coverage.

MultiChoice appointed Accenture to oversee the selection process, and Thomson Reuters conducted due diligence investigations.

Among the issues Thomson Reuters investigated for each bidder was verification of ownership, establishing the absence of political influence, and BBBEE credentials.

The requirement set out in the bid to be non-partisan and provide critical news coverage will be captured in the channel supply contract with Newzroom Afrika, said Mawela.

He added that there will be regular evaluations of how the new channel performs in terms of the contract.

On the issue of ownership, MultiChoice noted that Newzroom Afrika is 100% black-owned, and 50% female-owned. This is in line with its focus on sustainable transformation of South Africa’s news and entertainment industry.

Privately owned

Newzroom Afrika is a 50–50 partnership between Thokozani Nkosi from Eclipse TV, and Thabile Ngwato of Rapid Innovation.

“We are entirely independent. We are the only owners of this entity,” said Nkosi.

He said that Newzroom Afrika is founded on the premise that the consumption of news media is constantly changing. They aim to bring a fresh take on doing the news, and hope to improve the news-watching audience in South Africa.

“We are about being disruptors, not the disrupted,” added Ngwato.

Ngwato also confirmed several members of Newzroom Afrika’s executive team:

  • Zanele Mthembu – head of the broadcast operation.
  • Malebo Phage – editor-in-chief of the newsroom.
  • Joe Thloloe – editorial ethics oversight board.
  • Dinesh Balliah – editorial ethics oversight board.

The editorial team was not announced, however, and Ngwato said that as they had just found out they won the bid, they needed time before launching a recruitment drive.

Ngwato said that all applications will be considered, and that former Afro Worldview staff will receive special consideration.

Now read: What MultiChoice is doing about declining DStv Premium subscriber numbers

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How MultiChoice will make sure Newzroom Afrika doesn’t become another ANN7