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SABC’s Hlaudi brags about own success

2013-08-02 21:30
Cape Town – The SABC's matricless megastar Hlaudi Motsoeneng is once again outshining everyone else – this time with boastful comments about the public broadcaster’s second try at a 24-hour TV news channel – as other executives fawn and lavish praise on “the torchbearer for the SABC”.

The SABC’s controversial acting chief operating officer (COO), known for loving the spotlight from TV cameras, went on the SABC's airwaves on Thursday evening shortly after the channel started on DStv, to proudly exclaim: “We have negotiated with MultiChoice more than R500 million. Half a billion! Who else can do that?"

In studio 9 being interviewed live on the air by the SABC News anchor Vabakshnee Chetty and basking in the glow of the bright studio lights, Motsoeneng’s comments eclipsed all others as he spoke about how nobody is going to dictate to the SABC who the public broadcaster should be in business with, or about news values – least of all not print media.

The SABC endured a public pummelling in the South African press which reached a crescendo in 2012 due to on-going financial problems and instability, mismanagement, top executive and SABC board room drama, resignations and constant accusations of political interference from the ruling ANC party and biased news coverage.

Earlier Thursday afternoon at the SABC News TV channel’s launch event, one executive after the other lavished effusive praised on Motsoeneng who holds the second highest executive position at the SABC but who never passed matric.

SABC CEO Lulama Mokhobo thanked Motsoeneng, saying "we've very grateful for your strange behaviour. We sometimes think: 'Is this man mad?' You're not caring who's standing in your path and you're ready to klap them. We thank you for your tenacity."

Zandile Tshabala the SABC's interim SABC chairperson said: "Sometimes I get jealous," referring to Motsoeneng. "He's more famous than the SABC."

Imtiaz Patel, the group CEO for MultiChoice South Africa said "Hlaudi always throws curveballs and you're right, he is more famous than the SABC. “ Patel called Motsoeneng "a torchbearer" for the SABC.

Motsoeneng: People are afraid of this channel

On Thursday evening while being interviewed on his own news channel, Motsoeneng said: “You know we have been struggling, talking for more than 12 years about 24-hour news channel. Some people thought we were not going to make it. But we have done it. We have succeeded at the SABC.”

"You know the reason people are so afraid of this channel is because we cross to New York, we cross to Zimbabwe, and we cross to provinces. You know, newspapers shall quote SABC, we shall not follow newspapers. They shall follow us. We should dictate. No-one should dictate for the SABC."

The SABC News channel on MultiChoice's DStv platform on channel 404 replaces the SABC's first attempt at a 24-hour news channel, SABC News International.

SABC News International was launched in July 2007 but closed down three years later at the end of March 2010 after costing hundreds of millions of Rands and which helped to bring the SABC to the brink of financial collapse in 2009.

MultiChoice as a private satellite pay-TV platform is giving the SABC more than half a billion rand over the next few years to run the SABC News channel, which has raised serious concerns within civil society groups.

‘We as SABC should dictate ourselves’

When Motsoeneng was asked why it took the SABC so long to get a dedicated 24-hour news channel, he bluntly responded: '"I can't answer that. I wasn't a leader. This time I'm a leader. I can just talk about the current."

"Then tell me about your vision as a leader now for this channel," asked Chetty.

"People should not dictate who SABC should do business with," said Motsoeneng.

"We as SABC should dictate ourselves. We have a historical partnership with MultiChoice. We have a partnership coming from sports. SABC Africa in the past we were also involved. We're saying MultiChoice is the right platform for our own, ordinary people to watch."

"Especially what is also key, at the rural areas where some of the people they don't have water, the government decision-makers, they will be able to watch such stories. Which are unique stories. But we can't be dictated by print media or other people," said Motsoeneng.

Negotiated more than R500 million

"We now have been able to negotiate with MultiChoice more than R500 million. Half a billion! Who else can do that?' If you focus on problems you become your problems yourself - you can't move on. If we are able to raise R500 million - half a billion - who says we can't raise R1,5 billion after five years? Who says we can't raise revenue?" said Motsoeneng.

"Why are our own journalists quoting newspapers? If you are a journalist you need to be out there on the street. You need to have sources that you know when you talk about a story that is going to happen. We don't just want to talk about the rumours," said Motsoeneng.
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