It is a gloomy time for everything Gupta in South Africa at the moment. Sunday Times reports that Pay-TV giant MultiChoice is considering pulling the plug on the Gupta-owned ANN7 news channel come August when its contract expires.
MultiChoice recently informed ANN7 management that it had received a number of customer complaints about the channel's failure to adhere to programming standards.
The Sunday Times understands that MultiChoice said it was disinclined to renew ANN7' s contract, citing the customer complaints as the primary reason.
ANN7 is owned by Infinity Media which is owned by Essel Media, Mabengela Investments and Oakbay Investments of the Gupta family.
While ANN7 has also been struggling with ratings, I personally have tuned in to watch sometimes. However, I have often found myself annoyed and frustrated by the amateurish on air mistakes.
Mistakes and misspelling happen, I make them here all the time but I don't have people working with me. Sometimes it is not that their are mistakes, it often the fact that these are issues that can easily be fixed. Like the other night I was watching Sindi Mabe's show during the debate about Matthew Theunissen's racist comments.
Mabe is clearly a competent and prolific broadcaster but hard as she tried to conduct a professional show, the in studio noise in the background was such an annoyance for me as a viewer. I sat there wondering why isn't anyone, whether in studio or who works there and is watching not telling the people to keep quiet while shooting.
I even tweeted about it;
Eish @ANN7tv !! The background sound during ANN7 Prime is unprofessional. Tell those ppl to lower their voices!— IG: philmphela (@PhilMphela) May 3, 2016
Honestly, I do not tune into the channel expecting much but I do expect professionalism and some semblance of competency because I assume the staff that works at the channel was properly vetted for the jobs.
That a reporter could say things like "a woman was fatally shot but is still recovering" and the occasional misspelling of words is disheartening but my biggest concern is that their is clearly a lack of leadership at the station that these mistakes which can easily be fixed keep happening.
To pull ANN7 off air means loss of work and training opportunities for a lot of people. Say what you will but the channel has offered numerous graduates a chance to work in the industry and gain some experience. granted it doesn't seem like they pick the best of the lot but it is to commended.
At the end of the day, if ANN7 is not improving its viewership share of 8.83% among MultiChoice's range of news channels on DStv as indicated AGB Nielsen Media Research — which is off from the 10.66% share it had in February 2016 and down from its 10.15% share in March last year, then it is to be expected that MultiChoice would pull it off their bouquet.
My opinion is that ANN7 can be fixed and offer an alternative to eNCA. Most of its problems are minor and can just be mended by having some strong leadership with some attention to detail and the calibre of on air atleast they hire.
According to this @ANN7tv reporter "the gunman shot & injured himself severely & FATALLY, but he's still alive" 😆😅 pic.twitter.com/bVWC8J3Uht— IG: philmphela (@PhilMphela) August 26, 2015
They are often the first to be on a scene when a story breaks and they turn to cover a wide spectrum of news unlike eNCA that seems to loop the same batch of packaged stories all day. The channel can be competitive and attract more viewers, I believe.