The decision by e.tv to review its editorial management practices was welcomed by the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on Sunday.
“Council has noted developments regarding allegations of editorial interference at eNCA implicating politicians, shareholders and senior executives,” Sanef chairperson Mpumelelo Mkhabela said in a statement.
“Council welcomed the decision by e.tv … to launch a review of the channel’s editorial management practices to safeguard editorial independence and credibility of news coverage.”
On Thursday, the broadcaster said that lines “appeared to have been blurred” between a report on infrastructure development and advertising.
“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.”
Accusations of wrong doing
Sabido, the owner of e.tv and eNCA, announced on Thursday that it had initiated a review of the infrastructure series, which aired earlier this year. The infrastructure series came under scrutiny following the resignation of chief executive of e.tv and eNCA, Marcel Golding, and chief operating officer Bronwyn Keene-Young.
Golding was suspended last month as Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) executive chairman. Golding appealed against his suspension in the Labour Court and lost the application last Monday.
On Thursday HCI, which has a 63% stake in e.tv, said it was suspending Golding pending a disciplinary inquiry into allegations of gross misconduct. According to eNCA, HCI accused Golding of an unauthorised share trade, saying he did not have board approval to acquire shares worth R24-million in technology company Ellies.
Golding reportedly claimed he was being ousted in a battle for control of e.tv’s editorial independence.
HCI denied this, saying the issue was the unauthorised share trade. HCI director Barbara Hogan resigned at the same time. She reportedly cited that a probe into the Ellies share transaction unfolded in an unprofessional way, and that major e.tv shareholder, the SA Clothing and Textile Workers’ Union, had issues with e.tv’s editorial policy.
In the statement on Thursday e.tv’s managing director of news Patrick Conroy said it was clear the news division should have been more directly involved in the discussions at the time.
Sanef said its concerns were raised at a meeting held in Durban on Saturday. Mkhabela on Sunday also confirmed the appointment of Bongani Siqoko as the forum’s new deputy chairperson following the resignation of Makhudu Sefara.
Siqoko has been editor of the Daily Dispatch since June last year. Sefara resigned from Sanef in October, which was cited as “amicable and mutually agreed upon”. In June, he resigned as editor of The Star. – Sapa