Zuma launches new SABC channel

2013-08-02 07:36
SABC Jacob Zuma

Johannesburg - President Jacob Zuma on Thursday became the first guest to be interviewed on the SABC's 24-hour news television channel.

The public broadcaster's went live at 18:00 on DStv channel 404.

During the interview, Zuma said he was very excited about the new venture.

"This means I can watch the news at anytime and not only at 18:00 or 19:00," Zuma said. The channel was launched at the SABC studios in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.

Around 100 people attended the event, and a choir made up of SABC employees provided the entertainment for the ceremony.

Not only focus on corruption

Among the delegates was Lesotho Prime Minister Tom Thabane, Communications Minister Yunus Carrim and soccer administrator Irvin Khoza.

The launch coincided with the station's 77th birthday.

Zuma encouraged the channel to tell stories that reflected the continent's progress, and not only focus on crime and corruption.

"I hope this channel will change the attitude and make South Africans proud of what they have been able to achieve on their own. In short, the true South African story is waiting to be told."

He said the new channel should express its right of freedom of expression.

SABC overcame negativity

Zuma said broadcasting had come a long way, having played its part in the transition of the country from the apartheid era to democracy.

"The growth of the broadcast sector... is remarkable," he said.

Acting chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng said the SABC had overcome all the negativity which surrounded the project.

"Wiser people were saying we will not succeed... We are succeeding now and they are just wasting their time," he said.

He said it took many risks to get the project off the ground as it was already 12 years overdue.

Motsoeneng said the SABC was in good financial standing.

'DStv don't dictate to us'

"People who want to destroy the SABC are saying the SABC is useless, but we have done our research and people out there are saying we are doing well," said Motsoeneng.

The broadcaster still had various aspects to address with MultiChoice, he said. The company operates DStv.

"They don't dictate to us. We dictate to them... If we are not happy, we divorce them."

Carrim echoed the words of Group CEO Lulama Mokhobo and board chairperson Zandile Tshabalala that the event marked a milestone for the SABC.

"You are part of a fragile democratic society and have a crucial role," said Carrim.

He said he had no reason to believe that the channel would not prosper.

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