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KRISTEN VAN SCHIE
The audience started out hopeful.
The launch of another 24-hour news channel was just what South Africa needed – and viewers welcomed the glitzy ballroom and weird sound problems on Africa News Network7 (ANN7), on DStv channel 405, with open arms and eyes on Wednesday night.
But by yesterday afternoon, two videos of ANN7 flubs were already doing the rounds on Twitter.
The first, “ANN7 first massive mistake 21 August 2013”, shows sports programme GameOn! launching into its debut episode with an immediate blooper: the two presenters introducing themselves before grimacing at the camera in silence.
One tries to pick up the pieces, introducing the first segment while her co-anchor tries to grab the attention of whoever is behind the camera with wide eyes and an obviously clicking finger.
“There’s lots happening on sport on this um… this evening um… lots of headlines.
“The first one obviously is the Ashes Test. Um. It was a fantastic game. Watson had a fantastic innings. Um. But let’s have a look at the package.”
“Good one,” says her partner as the cricket visuals take over, sans commentary.
Forty seconds later they’re back. Staring at us.
“Hello.” Pause. “We’re back from the break and that was some great cricket action…”
Some improv dialogue. Some awkward pausing.
“Great stuff.” Pause. The sound of voices in the background, something about fading into the background.
“Ja, please,” blurts one presenter. Enter unannounced commercial break.
And that was the first 100 seconds of the show. It had over 2 300 hits on YouTube by last night.
The second video – which even comes with a hashtag, “GUPTA-TV – ANN7 Presenter can’t read - #sobaditsgood” – shows an anchor squinting into the camera struggling to read the script on her prompter.
“The ANC has dismissed… A-A-Againg SA” – sorry, Mamphela – “leader’s call… as attention… seeking…”
Twitter was ruthless, slamming everything from the backdrop to the tardy bulletins.
Novelist and playwright Zakes Mda wrote: “This is the worst tv I’ve ever seen. And I have seen lots of bad tv produced by high school & college students in my life.”
“Crikey Moses,” added media reporter Gill Moodie. “These dolls are bunnies in the headlights.”
Broadcaster Mark Pilgrim sympathised: “Ouch. Nothing more awkward than a live TV blunder. Feel sorry for them.”
Even the satirical Twitter account for the SABC, @SABCtoo, got in on the action tweeting “At least our news readers can, well… read” and “We thought our news channel was bad but then we watched #ANN7 -> #Awkies”.
A number of videos had been uploaded to YouTube, including “ANN7 first massive mistake”, “ANN7 news is so bad it’s awesome” and “GUPTA-TV – ANN7 Presenter can’t read”.
But the bosses had expected this. The New Age chief executive Nazeem Howa was quoted in The New Age on Wednesday as saying: “As a new entrant in the market we expect to make some errors, and we hope to learn from our mistakes as well as get feedback from our viewers.”
Chin up, team. It takes years for some reporters to make it onto those YouTube blooper reels. You’re in on day one.