Newzroom Afrika launches, hopes to be 'a strong alternative' in the local TV news sphere

2019-05-02 19:44
Newzroom Afrika

Cape Town – The new Newzroom Afrika channel made its debut on Thursday evening on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV service, telling viewers that it hopes "to be seen as a strong alternative" in the local TV news sphere. 

Newzroom Afrika, set up by Thabile Ngwato's Rapid Innovation and Thokozani Nkosi's Eclipse TV, will compete against rivals like eNCA (DStv 403) and SABC News (DStv 404) in a highly-contested TV space for eyeballs and advertising rands. 

"Our promise to you is to be an innovate and interactive multimedia news service, to be seen as a strong alternative for professional, incredible South African current affairs coverage. We promise to unpack the unspoken," said Thabile Ngwato in an on-screen launch message as she stood next to co-founder Thokozani Nkosi before the studio's big video wall. 

Nkosi said that the channel hopes to bring "cutting-edge content to your screen". 

Newzroom Afrika takes over the vacant spot of channel number 405 where the controversial Gupta family's ANN7 used to reside before Mzwanele Manyi took it over and rebranded it as Afro Worldview. The channel, however, got shut down by MultiChoice in August 2018. 

Newzroom Afrika unveiled its new set inside its studio in Linden, Johannesburg on Thursday evening with an L-shaped, red desk and a video wall on the right-hand side. 

The NewzAtPrime co-anchor Cathy Mohlahlana who anchored during prime time on eNCA before she was moved back to an afternoon slot and then left, had an on-screen TV reunion with another former eNCA star, Karyn Maughan. Mohlahlana and Maughan are two of several other former eNCA staffers who have made the jump to Newzroom Afrika. 

The launch broadcast – unlike the one of ANN7 which was overshadowed by bloopers and mistakes that instantly went viral – went off without noticeable glitches or technical errors, with Cathy Mohlahlana and her co-anchor and sports editor Marc Lewis, formerly involved with the SABC, whom both did great. The first news bulletin followed a surprisingly traditional TV news approach, pace and presentation style. 

Newzroom Afrika didn't release a schedule to the media, but its next big programming launch will be its weekday morning show, Breaking Dawn, that will kick off on Friday morning with presenters Sizwe Dhlomo, Carmen Reddy and Gugu Mhlungu and will revolve around "topical issues with informal banter and analysis". 

Newzroom Afrika during its first bulletin announced that it would be covering South Africa's general elections set for 8 March. It applied for and managed to secure its own branded media berth at the Independent Electoral Commission's (IEC) operations centre in Pretoria-West from where it will be able to broadcast from, similar to the other TV news channels.

The South African government in a statement welcomed the launch of Newzroom Afrika, with Phumla Williams, government spokesperson, saying: "Government is encouraged by the growing number of 24-hour news channels in the country, which further strengthens media diversity. The introduction of Newzroom Afrika will further shape public discourse on pertinent matters affecting our nation.

"The new channel will contribute immensely to South Africa’s dynamic media industry and also contribute towards creating an informed citizenry. Government wishes Newzroom Afrika all of the best in its endeavour."

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