NEWS
01/02/2018 11:41 SAST | Updated 01/02/2018 12:10 SAST

Media Expert Questions MultiChoice's ANN7 Decision

On Wednesday, MultiChoice announced it would not be renewing its contract with the channel in August.

The New Age and ANN7 proprietor Mzwanele Manyi
Getty Images
The New Age and ANN7 proprietor Mzwanele Manyi

Media expert and newly appointed future executive director of the South African National Editors Forum (Sanef), Kate Skinner, says she is unsure of the motives behind MultiChoice's decision to dump ANN7.

"I'm not sure it was a good choice for MultiChoice to remove ANN7," she says. "It seems there are other issues. They're saying ANN7 was a propaganda channel, and it didn't perform to ethical journalism standards, but it seems to me like curious timing – as they are currently linked to the ICASA probe, which is looking into payments by MultiChoice to ANN7 and the SABC, which are supposedly linked to the encryption debate."

"We don't want an incredibly powerful player like MultiChoice to make decisions based on anything other than good quality journalism, and now it seems like it could be linked to these probes. Channel payments need to be about commercial issues and payment, but it can't be around government influence."

She says the decision threatens not just the future of a diverse media environment, but also the careers of young black journalists.

"The huge problem is that there are a number of young black journalists who face losing their job, and for me as a media practitioner, that is an unfortunate situation for the media industry. It will threaten media freedom if we don't look at the issues carefully, and probe the issues to make them more transparent for MultiChoice – and all the big media houses, for that matter."

"Decisions need to be made around ethical journalism, before it has an even greater impact on the media environment."

Read: ANN7's Been Made MultiChoice's Scapegoat, Says Editor

An ANN7 journalist says despite how the channel has been portrayed, it has given a lot of young black people a good platform to start their broadcast careers.

"It has definitely been a platform that has hired people who have been turned away from big corporations; that's something that cannot be denied," she told HuffPost on Thursday.

She is unhappy that the channel will be closing down, because it has given her the chance to develop her career.

"I have more of a passion for human-interest and social-justice pieces – it has always been interesting and enriching, and I have been able to learn from my editor doing those type of stories," she said. "I have grown quite a bit in doing those stories, and am able to build some kind of portfolio from that."

"Despite where you have worked, your skills and talents speak for themselves. I hope that editors from publications can judge each worker on their individual skills."– ANN7 journalist

Despite the announcement, it is still business as usual at the channel.

"Now people are trying to keep their chins up – we don't really know what is going to happen," the journalist said. "We really don't know the plan going forward."

She is not despondent, however, and believes that if other news editors give each of them fair judgment, she will be able to resume her career.

"Despite where you have worked, your skills and talents speak for themselves. I hope that editors from publications can judge each worker on their individual skills and give them the opportunities that are appropriate for that," she said. "Being very young that is not a hindrance – I think it will open more doors in the future."