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Mahikeng, South Africa
eNCA response to Government Series
Posted on: Thu 06 Nov 2014
As stated earlier this week SABIDO (owner of e.tv and eNCA) has initiated a review of the infrastructure series aired on eNCA and e.tv earlier this year. This formed part of the channels’ reflection on 20 years of democracy.
This series has come under intense scrutiny after the recent departure of CEO Marcel Golding and CCO Bronwyn Keene-Young.
“We are reviewing the process internally and what transpired. We will amend policies and procedures in future should it be necessary. We are committed to editorial output that is truthful and transparent” says Sabido COO, Mark Rosin.
At the outset it is apparent that there were problems which should have been foreseen and avoided.
Firstly, lines appear to have been blurred between an undertaking to report on infrastructure development in South Africa since 1994 and a commitment by Economic Development to spend advertising on the channel. The perception that the news was paid for is deeply regrettable and we wish to reassure our audiences that eNews remains an impartial and independent news outlet.
Recently appointed Managing Director of News, Patrick Conroy, says it clear that the news division should have been more directly involved in the discussions at the time as these matters were usually dealt with by the sales department who are non-editorial staff.
“The news division was at all times operating independently. In our view the advertising placements were non-editorial and separate. We felt it had no impact on the stories we were telling and we were reassured that editorial rested with us” he says.
However Conroy says “It became clear that the boundaries of editorial control were not clear to everyone involved and this created confusion between ourselves and the department. Despite this at no point did our editors surrender control”.
Conroy says news management agreed afterwards that in future clearer rules and policies were needed to avoid confusion between commercial messages and editorial ones.
“As a result of the issues above we have not entered into any similar agreements subsequently. It was open to misinterpretation and could be confused with advertorial content. Work on clearer policies and guidelines began once these issues were raised”.
Conroy says the exact nature of deals needs to be clear, especially where there may be a perception that paid advertising in one respect has a impact on editorial matters in another. This needs to be clear internally and in relation to third parties"
“Viewers should at all times be comforted in the knowledge of the fact that what they're watching is independently produced by our news division. Where necessary, disclosures should be included to reinforce this” he says.
Group Head: Corporate Affairs