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African News Agency to sue Times Media Group

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Johannesburg – The African News Agency on Thursday said it will take legal action against Times Media Group if the rival company fails to "retract defamatory statements" it made about the news wire.

"On instructions of African News Agency (ANA), our attorneys, Webber Wentzel, sent letters of demand to Times Media Group, Ann Crotty, Ray Hartley, Business Day and Business Live on 8th of March 2017 demanding that they retract defamatory statements made about ANA in an article, 'Breaking the News', published on 23 February 2017," said Grant Fredericks, Chief Executive Officer of ANA.

He said the respondents were given three days to retract the defamatory article, but had instead "released a further statement repeating the original defamatory article".

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Fredericks said Ann Crotty and Times Media Group's Financial Mail had in their most recent statement misinformed the public by stating that they had contacted ANA.

"We wish to make it clear that at no stage has any reporter from the Financial Mail, Business Day or Business Live contacted ANA, its Chief Executive or President regarding the claims made in their article," said Fredericks.

"Furthermore, no other ANA staff member was contacted by the Financial Mail or Ann Crotty regarding the claims published in their original article. In this regard, Ann Crotty, the Financial Mail and Business Live chose to ignore ethical journalistic practice by neglecting to verify the validity of any of their claims."

Fredericks said ANA is a global content syndication service provider with video, text and pictures, using world-class technology which has attracted international investors, both for its content syndication service, and its soon-to-be-launched social media platforms. These investors are partners and committed to ANA's growth strategy within South Africa and the rest of the world. ANA further plans to extend its footprint into various other locations, including Boston, New York, San Francisco, London, Paris and Mumbai.

"The defamatory article published by Ann Crotty and the Financial Mail has resulted in significant reputational damage to ANA, its international investors and partners, including its 40-plus media partners globally. Should Ann Crotty, the Financial Mail, Business Live, Business Day or any other reporter of Times Media Group have contacted ANA, we would gladly have provided them with the correct information."

Fredericks said: "ANA has set aside a substantial sum to litigate against Times Media Group and Tiso Blackstar, to claim an amount of R500 million in damages suffered.

"ANA is reluctant, but feels compelled to take legal action against Times Media Group in the South African and UK courts and, after having carefully considered the legal issues, ANA is confident that it will be successful in holding them to account for publishing false and defamatory statements."

Fredericks further said that through the article, ANA had been dragged into the alleged ongoing smear campaign by journalists, including former journalists of Independent Media, against Independent Media, Sekunjalo and Dr Iqbal Survé.

He said recent statistics and industry research show that Times Media Group is facing financial challenges and has lost significant market share to their rivals, including Independent Media, Media24 and CTP.

More importantly, their rivals, continue to outperform them in terms of circulation and technology innovation.

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