The agency was launched on Thursday (8 May) in Johannesburg in the absence of the group chief executive (GCEO), Dali Mpofu, and the corporation’s group executive of news and current affairs, Snuki Zikalala.
href=”/themedia/view/themedia/en/page1351?oid=8647&sn=Detail” target=_blank mce_href=”/themedia/view/themedia/en/page1351?oid=8647&sn=Detail”Both were suspended this past week, but they were, to the amusement of some audience members, still featured prominently in audiovisual presentations made at the launch.
Bheki Khumalo, a board member and former spokesperson of President Thabo Mbeki, in his speech at the launch accused the media of practising pack journalism by linking “everything (that happens in the SABC) to factions”. He described the SABC as a “convenient whipping boy or girl”, but, at the same time admitted the SABC needed to recommit itself to independence from party politics.
“Whatever happens to the board Ã¢Â€Â“ whether it is dissolved or not, the SABC will remain…,” he said.
Khumalo is one of the four board members the ANC reportedly initially wanted to have removed from the board. The ANC in the parliamentary portfolio committee on communications has since tabled a motion of no confidence in the entire board.
The motion, which was passed in the committee, is expected to be debated in the National Assembly on 22 May, SABC TV news reported.
SABC News International
According to presentations made at the launch, the SABC’s news agency will sell news and current affairs content to clients including broadcasters, production houses and government agencies.
One of the products offered is the SABC’s 24-hour news channel, SABC News International.
The SABC previously said it wanted the channel, which was launched on Sentech’s Vivid platform last year, to be available on DStv.
Itani Tseisi, general manager of finance in the SABC’s news division and of the SABC news agency, says the public broadcaster is still negotiating with MultiChoice over the possible inclusion of SABC News International on DStv.
“We want it (the agreement) to be non-exclusive outside South Africa. If MultiChoice wants it to be exclusive in South Africa, it will be acceptable to us.”
Tseisi says research has shown interest in the channel’s content in Europe Ã¢Â€Â“ particularly in the run-up to the Soccer World Cup in 2010.
It is currently being broadcast on href=”http://www.mhznetworks.org/” target=_blank mce_href=”http://www.mhznetworks.org/”MHz Networks in Washington DC, USA.
Aside from SABC News International’s content, the agency will provide services such as live feeds, SABC radio and TV bulletins, archive material and “tailor-made productions of news bulletins and/or current affairs programmes”.
Tseisi says clients will be able to subscribe to a service similar to what Reuters provides. They will get a diary of content to be covered and access to audio, video and text material.
He says an editor, which is to be appointed within a “month or two”, will ensure that the SABC is still able to broadcast some content exclusively before it is distributed to clients.
The agency aims to bring in R10-million revenue in the current financial year. It has an operating budget of R5-million. “I would like to see it (the revenue) double every year for three years,” Tseisi says.
Four people currently work for the agency: a news agency manager, two sales executives and an administrator. It will rely on the SABC’s existing news-gathering capacity. The situation will be reviewed as the number of clients increases, according to Tseisi.
Ã¢Â–Â The Star reports Zikalala was suspended because he allegedly showed documents related to the dismissal of Lesedi FM current affairs executive Hlaudi Motsoeneng to ANC treasurer-general Mathews Phosa. The latter denied ever being shown documents by Zikalala.
Ã¢Â–Â !_LT_EMMail & Guardian!_LT_/EM has a different take on the matter. According to the weekly, Zikalala was suspended because Mpofu wanted to prevent the board from appointing Zikalala acting group chief executive once they suspended Mpofu.
Ã¢Â–Â The South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) says in a statement the top level disciplinary issues and staff departures are likely to have a “highly disruptive effect on the conduct of the broadcaster’s operations”. It believes the selection of board members and the deployment of ANC executives at the SABC should be reviewed.
!_LT_EMThis is an updated version of the story first published on TheMediaOnline.!_LT_/EM !_LT_EMThe last two bullets were added.!_LT_/EM