In a statement on Tuesday, the channel said viewers could expect to see lead anchor Cathy Mohlahlana, “politics stalwart” Thulasizwe Simelane, “talk show veteran” JJ Tabane and “sports fiend” Marc Lewis “in a compelling line-up of combinations that have never been seen before”.
Newzroom Afrika would pair talk radio’s Sizwe Dhlomo and Gugu Mhlungu alongside Natasha Thorp “for a refreshing take on breakfast TV, while award-winning news anchors Thabo Mdluli and Thami Ngubeni round off the on-air team with their extensive broadcast experience”.
Business commentator Ayabonga Cawe would “take the pulse of the small business sector, with a focus on start-ups and the township economy, and expert analysis of challenges and solutions”.
The company said its journalists would be granted licence to report “fearlessly” on any subject, “backed by an independent editorial board chaired by former Press Ombudsman and veteran editor Joe Thloloe, along with SA Press Council advocate and Wits journalism educator Dinesh Balliah and former Mail & Guardian editor and Code for Africa content strategist Chris Roper”.
Former Power FM head of news Dianne Hawker was heading up the news and current affairs department.
Newzroom Afrika is a partnership between television production entrepreneurs Thabile Ngwato and Thokozani Nkosi, and was the winning bidder last year selected by MultiChoice to produce the new 24-hour news channel for DStv.
The EFF made a huge stink about the deal, with party leader Julius Malema claiming to have all sorts of information about it being dirty. He claimed he had seen a “terrible file” about the matter.
He then, however, failed to produce a shred of evidence despite claiming at a press conference that “MultiChoice has presented some unknown fellows” and “there’s something running there that is not proper and we will come back to it”. He alleged the problem was so deep that parliament might have to investigate it.
The mood at the channel ahead of its launch appears to be very upbeat.
Ngwato said: “We believe viewers are hungry for a different perspective that is fully independent and puts their interests first. We made sure in designing our editorial structure and choosing the members of our editorial board to hardwire the highest levels of rigour and independence into our newsroom.”
The channel appears keen to avoid the numerous editorial and technical problems that beset ANN7, which made the broadcaster a regular joke, especially on social media, in its earliest months. ANN7 continued to make embarrassing gaffes through the years, which many blamed on staff imported from India who didn’t fully understand South Africa.
By contrast, Newzroom Afrika “recruited a high-calibre team of more than 200 journalists, presenters, technicians and digital specialists to help bring our vision to life, and they’ve put in many hours of training and testing to ensure we’re ready and raring to go by the time we go live,” added Ngwato.
“Our aim is to get viewers excited about news again,” said Nkosi. “We’ll provide verified, credible and authoritative news that people can trust to keep them informed on issues that matter most to them.”
The channel says “cutting-edge systems and technology mean Newzroom Afrika will be broadcast in high-definition, with unmatched remote broadcasting capabilities that give journalists the freedom to roam wherever the news takes them”.
It will be available for streaming on smartphone, tablet or desktop through DStv Now, and will be open to all subscribers on packages from DStv Access all the way up to Premium.