e.tv has finally launched its long-awaited 24/7 eNews Channel. Touted as being “independent” and without “fear or favour”, the first hour was promising. The set was slick, even though it had the feel of being in an aquarium with all the blue. The presenters Jeremy Maggs and Redi Direko, groomed to within an inch of their lives, appeared authoritative and professional. I liked the thin live strap line running at the bottom of the screen with headlines and the small company logo to its left – much better than the cluttered screens of Sky or CNN.
Their first crossover – to a centre for people displaced by xenophobic violence – went smoothly with a representative of the Jewish Board of Deputies adding context after the news report. A piece on Judge John Hlophe’s alleged interference at the Constitutional Court was also supplemented with analysis, provided by a reporter standing outside the Cape High Court, where Hlophe is based, and lawyer Jeremy Gauntlett. Then it was over to Bafana Bafana’s 2-0 loss to Nigeria with pre-report banter between the news and sports desk lightening the tone.
I liked the way Jeremy and Redi moved around the studio – standing next to the screen feeding the live cross over through, talking directly to the reporter in the field while asking the questions.
The weather report was great – none of that standing and clicking a hand thingy – nice graphics, nice to see Soweto on a weather map – I didn’t notice if Gugulethu or KwaMashu were also featured, but it was a nice local touch.
Their business item was on how to avoid getting your house repossessed as interest rates start to bite. I liked the lay person approach and didn’t have to decipher any of the financial code that economists seem to use.
But…hang on – two news items? (If you don’t count the Bafana item). They already have a network of reporters and cameramen, they are well plugged into the news loop of press conferences, the statement machine, the wires, news websites, reporters’ word of mouth. They’re used to tight deadlines, the editing and packaging of news bulletins so the news coverage, although well done with the added analysis, seemed a bit thin.
I may have missed the international news while I was topping up my tea but it must have been pretty quick or saved for later and I didn’t stay tuned for the feature: is South Africa at a crossroads?
Once they apply the “without fear” part of their logo to packing more stuff in to their main bulletin, I think they’ll do well. I wanted to add a clip from their debut but they don’t seem to have a partner website yet for their news offerings. Perhaps this is something Matthew Buckland chatted to them about while he was attending the launch party, as a website with video and audio seems to be a staple with the international news channels. Meanwhile, you’ll have to make do with Jeremy and Redi’s cvs.