It has everything a good news show should – the latest headlines to car reviews, IT advice, gardening, travel and even the weather. But its fresh-faced presenters lack one thing: their clothes, all of them.
And that is exactly the point of Naked News, screened on e.tv every Friday night.
Produced in Canada, Naked News hit South African screens last month. The international programme, better known to its fans as a subscription website service rather than a traditional TV broadcast offering, will feature on the free-to-air channel for the next three months.
The 23-minute long news show, featuring relevant up to date local and international news, presented by comely beautiful news anchors, has won over plenty of South African fans since it launched, but it’s also got conservative and pro-family lobbies foaming at the mouth.
The producers of Naked News have been so overwhelmed by the great local response though, that they are now planning a locally produced news show and will go in search of South African female news anchors who are willing to bare it all.
“We are looking for local presenters who represent our rainbow nation,” said Craig John, producer of Naked News in Africa.
“We have filmed programmes in SA before and posted them on the website and we would like to do so more regularly going forward,” he said.
While the internet site shows news anchors in full nudity, the e.tv version has been censored.
“In the e.tv version the genitals have been blurred/covered and on the internet site there is full nudity. The version on e.tv has the fuzzy bits made “more fuzzy,” added John.
“Certain critics of the programme have used the term “pornography” in relation to our programme indicating an unhealthy lack of understanding of the difference between nudity and sex, on indeed pornography,” he said.
“Nothing sexual or sexually suggestive takes place in our shows. In this respect, Naked News is far less explicit than many movies with sex scenes involving nudity and often very intense or even violent sex,” said John.
John added that there was far more to the show than just the nude news presenters.
“The news anchors read genuine top quality news reports daily and also cover topics such as I.T advice, dating advice, car reviews etc. All of this is being screened on e.tv on Friday nights at around midnight,” he said.
“We seem to have 90 percent support. Most South Africans rightly take this with a pinch of salt and recognize the humour and entertainment value of the programme,” he said.
“There is a very small minority who, with no factual foundation or research at hand, blame naked news for all the sexual crimes in SA. Amongst this group are small number fanatical fundamentalist Christians attempting to create a media controversy to give themselves some legitimacy despite their marginal status,” added John.
“If we allow them to control us now, soon they will be bringing back the death penalty, closing all art galleries and insisting that the Michelangelo’s statue of David wear pants. It’s bizarre,” said John.
Also the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of SA has given Naked News the thumbs up saying that the show was not in contravention of broadcasting standards.
“It is within the watershed time for adult viewing and gives a verbal warning beforehand, as well as an age restriction of 18 with nudity that is shown throughout the show,” BCCSA spokesman Shouneez Martin said.
However Errol Naidoo, Institute director of the Family Policy Institute has slammed e.tv and has begun an “e.tv Mass Switch Off” campaign.
“As a result of e.tv’s anti-family programming policies several Christian denominations and Church alliances have indicated their support for the campaign,” said Naidoo.
“Millions of Christians are sick and tired of the moral decay in society. The sexual exploitation of women and children fuelled by pornography contributes significantly to the rape and sexual abuse of women and children in South Africa,” said Naidoo.
“This campaign aims to send a clear message not only to e.tv but the SABC, DStv and Top TV that Christian viewers will not tolerate smut on national television” he said.
Naidoo added that several Church organisations has committed to encourage their Church alliances and significant congregations in South Africa to immediately boycott.
“We will boycott e.tv until it cancels the appalling “Naked News” program and all other pornographic content from its broadcasting schedule,” he said,