Major TV shake-up great for consumers

by Gill Moodie (@GrubstreetSA) There’s a real shake-up of TV coming South Africa’s away – especially of television news – and none of it bodes well for our newspapers.

The SABC launched its 24-hour news operation on the DStv satellite network (on channel 404) last week while the Gupta family – owners of TNA Media, parent company of The New Age newspaper – is getting ready to take their 24/7 news operation live (on channel 405) very soon.

The Guptas’ Africa News Network 7 – or “ANN7” – already has a rather slick-looking beta website up and Atul Gupta has been tweeting recruitment ads

Mac, how hard is it to be honest and open about Mandela?

by Gill Moodie (@GrubstreetSA)I was very touched – as I’m sure were many other viewers – by the interview on eNCA last Friday by Annika Larsen with former Rivonia trialist Denis Goldberg after he visited Nelson Mandela in hospital.

I don’t think I am only South African hack – or ordinary citizen – who is mystified by the lack of official information from the presidency and its chief spokesman, Mac Maharaj, on the how our former president is doing in hospital… especially after the confusion last week when Mandela family court papers filed at the Mthatha high court claimed that doctors had advised that life support be switched off.

Goldberg said he wanted to set the record straight – and that he does in this interview! – Late to the party but streetwise

TV and online seem to be such a happy fit so it has always perplexed me that eNews Channel Africa – or eNCA (previously eNews) – went for so long without a proper website. In fact, eNCA only launched its site – under GM Tim Spira – in April this year.

But even with eNCA still in the process of establishing its brand (the change was necessitated by the launch of a UK channel on the Sky pay-TV platform in August last year), the site’s numbers are exceeding its own expectations: at more than 270 000 domestic users in May, which was its first full month of in existence.

Grubstreet spoke to Spira last week to find out more about why it took so long for eNCA to establish an online presence and what mistakes they hope to avoid by coming to the party so late.

Mixed reviews for online launch of news brand eNCA

by Herman Manson (@marklives) eNCA, the South African based satellite news channel, recently launched a beta version of their website promising “an immersive experience for users”.

eNCA should be a much bigger news brand in the South African media market than it is. Its reach is limited to subscribers to MultiChoice’s DStv platform (and more recently the SKY digital satellite platform in the United Kingdom) although it also syndicates news content to free-to-air channel The rebranding from eNews to eNCA in late 2012 means the brand is also still new to consumers.

While it dominates satellite news and its viewership figures is nothing to sneeze at, as a news brand it can and should be much stronger. A multi-channel approach is required to build any media brand today, and with revenue under pressure, the stakes for this business could not be higher.

Remgro, which owns a substantial stake in the eNCA holding company, Sabido, said in its unaudited results for the six months ended 31 December 2012 that advertising sales on and eNCA were “under pressure during the period under review but programming and operating costs remained stable.”

To address this, Remgro announced in a SENS statement that “the focus of the group for the forthcoming months is the ongoing development of a multi-channel strategy to enhance its competitiveness across a multiplicity of platforms and provide opportunities for new revenue streams. This includes the launch of Online and eNCA Online in the first half of 2013.”

There is obviously a lot at stake for the larger eNCA brand in pulling off the successful launch of

But reviews thus far have been mixed, at best. “Creating a new online home for eNews Channel Africa could have presented the news brand with a great opportunity to differentiate itself from the public broadcaster, but unfortunately an outdated look and cluttered execution just makes it look like more of the same,” says journalist and media commentator Mandy de Waal. “Fonts aside, the SABC and ENCA news sites are much of a muchness.”

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