The Gupta family and the New Age have been caught up in bouts of controversy after the Democratic Alliance (DA) exposed the New Age newspaper is almost entirely funded by the governing African National Congress (ANC).
Controversy also surround the DA accepting funding from an executive employed in one of the Gupta family’s companies after leader Helen Zille withdrew from a New Age breakfast event funded bystate-owned enterprises to the tune of R25 million (US$2.8 million).
The Gupta family, known friends of President Jacob Zuma, are now set to air a 24-hour news channel by August this year. Imtiaz Patel, CEO of MultiChoice, toldCity Press the New Age channel will form part of DStv’s premier bouquet. Patel also confirmed that MultiChoice is not going to pay the New Age for the hosting of the channel.
The New Age channel will be replacing the South African Broadcasting Corporation’s (SABC) planned news channel, which is no longer set to air on DStv. City Press found recently that SABC does charge any amount to broadcast the New Age’s breakfast events live on SABC 2, which gives rise to the question of objectivity.
The New Age newspaper’s headquarters in Midrand, Gauteng have been reported to be under construction to facilitate studio equipment.
However, it appears experts in television news broadcasting industry are unaware of the New Age television station. “I’ve never heard anything about this nor have any of the management here,” Patrick Conroy, head of 24-hour news channel eNCA told City Press.
Hlaudi Motsoeneng, chief operating officer for SABC also has no knowledge of the New Age channel. According to Motsoeneng, SABC would only launch a 24-hour news channel of its own once Digital Terrestrial television (DTT) has been implemented.
This means SABC will have to wait well past 2015 since the country willmiss the internationally set deadline for the digital migration.
“We decided to revisit our decision to air on DStv, as it will not reach our audience. The only talks we’ve had with the New Age are about extending the (business) breakfast shows to cater for rural areas. We are moving towards town hall discussion in rural areas,” Motsoeneng told City Press.