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In a letter to The Star, Themba Sepotokele says the new news channel should be commended for making a contribution.
Johannesburg - Spare a thought for the editorial staff working for the new kid on the block – the Africa News Network 7 (ANN7) – which has been a subject of ridicule since its launch.
Despite having been mocked in both the mainstream media and on social media platforms, and justifiably so, for the amateurish on-air mistakes since it was launched, ANN7 should be commended rather than simply condemned for making a contribution in the media landscape and reducing the unemployment queue.
I am one of those who was glued to the screen at the countdown to what the 24-hour news channel promised would have “a strong emphasis on breaking news, incisive analysis and innovative content, broadcasting from end-to-end technologically advantaged facilities”.
I did the same with the launch of the SABCN 24-hour news channel earlier.
I recorded most of the kindergarten mistakes committed by the presenters and newsreaders of the station dubbed Gupta-TV, TellyGupta or Amateur News Network 7.
A day after the launch, I watched in horror a newsreader, reading the news at 10.10am telling us it was 9am news.
Either she made a mistake or the news was recycled – I suspect the latter.
Much ink has been spent on the hilarious gaffes in newspapers and on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, to such a point that some of the clips were removed from YouTube.
Most newspapers went to town about the hilarious booboos of the Gupta-owned television station.
The Guptas also own The New Age newspaper, which came under severe criticism due to the fact that they have close links with President Jacob Zuma, whose son Duduzane is one of the owners of ANN7.
However, all armchair critics have ignored two important factors.
First, the issue of media diversity and second, job creation.
One of the challenges the country is facing is job creation, so the channel has contributed in providing jobs to people who would otherwise be joining the long queues of unemployment.
On that score, the owners and shareholders should be applauded.
With eNCA as the only 24-hour news channel for a few years now and the SABC monopoly, SABCN and AAN7 have provided a platform for competition.
As long as none of the media television channels is a propaganda machine or mouthpiece, the more the merrier.
As a country, we need and deserve a diversity of voices that are independent and report without fear, favour or prejudice.
Themba Sepotokele, Joburg
** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.