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e.tv is the fifth terrestrial television channel in South Africa, following three channels operated by the state-owned South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC 1, SABC 2 and SABC 3) and the privately owned subscription-funded M-Net, operated by Multichoice. It is the first privately owned but free-to-air television station in the country.

e.tv is the only terrestrial TV channel in South Africa that produces independent news broadcasts. Their reports are sometimes critical of the SABC for its alleged "close ties" to the ruling African National Congress, and have launched print and outdoor campaigns that imply an inherent bias in the SABC's news coverage. More recently, they have joined a coalition of media outlets in a lawsuit to force the courts to allow live audio and/or video feeds to be broadcast from trials involving government officials and other prominent figures.

The channel broadcasts from both Cape Townmarker and Johannesburgmarker, with its prime time evening news bulletin at 7pm being broadcast from Johannesburg. Initially, this was broadcast from Cape Town, but this changed in 2002 with the opening of a new broadcast centre in Hyde Parkmarker, Johannesburgmarker. Initial news broadcasts were criticised for being too Cape Town-centric and news from other regions was not given enough prominence. The late-night 10pm bulletin is still broadcast from Cape Town, and the channel still runs from its Kloof Street production centre in the city.

Because of its liberal policies regarding adult content and continual reinforcement of being free-to-air while broadcasting blockbuster movies, e.tv has seemingly won the ratings war against the SABC stations, especially over the weekends.

Ownership

Midi TV was the consortium that won the broadcasting licence in 1998 to operate the channel. It is currently owned by black empowerment group Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) and VenFin, a part of the Rupert business empire.

The consortium has had many changes in ownership, however the dominant player has always been HCI: it had bought out minority black shareholders who had failed to repay loans they used to purchase the Midi TV stake. Warner Bros. sold their 25% shareholding of the channel in 2001, concerned that they would never be able to exercise full ownership: South African media ownership law restricts foreign entities to owning no more than 25% of a television channel.

Marcell Golding, a former trade unionist, is the current CEO of HCI and also manages the station.

Controversy and milestones

In January 2001, e.tv showed floor plans and other blueprints for renovations of Genadedal, the official residence of President Thabo Mbeki, on air. The government responded by threatening legal action, citing that the station contravened The Protection of Information Act. In August, it was reported to be the fastest-growing channel in South Africa. After the September 11, 2001 attacks, e.tv joined other South African broadcasters in agreeing to continue broadcasting statements by Osama bin Laden. It was also the site of an anthrax scare in October.

In 2002, the Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa exonerated e.tv from overstepping its code of conduct after complaints were received following its screening of series from the Emmanuelle soft-core porn series. In June, it failed in its attempt to stop M-Net from acquiring a new broadcast licence.

In 2003, it was awarded a contract from Uthingo to broadcast the National Lottery results live.

In 2004, e.tv was reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority after launching a series of newspaper advertisement in which the SABC was purported to be a "state broadcaster" and "lacking editorial independence." In October, it failed in its bid to force the court to allow a live broadcast of the proceedings of the Schabir Shaik trial. In November, it was reported that Midi TV owed ICASA R7 million in licence fees.

In 2005, it was fined R55 000 for two offences of broadcasting 18-rated movies before 9pm. It was also prevented by court ruling preventing it from airing a documentary concerning a prominent baby murder, but upon appeal was ordered to show the documentary to the case's prosecutors for review. The station also fired prominent personality Soli Philander after a year's involvement. It also garnered controversy from conservative and religious groups after it decided to broadcast softcore pornography late at night over weekends. It was also to be subpoenaed to appear before the Parliamentmarker's home affairs portfolio committee after failing to attend a hearing on pornography; e.tv subsequently claimed that they were given too short notice.

In 2006, it refused to air a controversial interview with P.W. Botha before his 90th birthday, which both the SABC and M-Net refused as well. They also received 14 complaints after a contestant was injured in an episode of the local Fear Factor; the station retorted, saying they "gave fair warning" to participants prior to the show, which was upheld by the BCCSA.

Local Productions

Another point of criticism of the station has been the perceived lack of involvement in producing local content. e.tv has commissioned two soapies which are broadcast in prime time, and commissioned the occasional documentary .

Backstage, set in an arts college in Cape Town, started off on a high note when it first aired in 2000, but things soured when e.tv had a dispute with the production company, and several popular cast members left the show. Because of low ratings to other shows in its time slot, Backstage was cancelled as of the end of June 2007. Backstage has since been replaced by a new series called Rhythm City which is set in the South African music industry.

Scandal, set at a tabloid newspaper, experienced increased ratings after its timeslot was changed from 8pm to 7.30pm. In its previous timeslot, the soapie clashed with SABC 1's established soapie Generations.

Foreign Shows

In South Africa, e.tv hosts some HBO shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Whose Line is it Anyway? and Curb Your Enthusiasm. It has also secured broadcast rights of the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) various shows; on Wednesday nights and over weekends, these receive the highest ratings in their timeslots. e.tv broadcasts WWE programming everyday, except Thursdays and has come to brand itself as "the home of WWE". As of 2009, WWE pay-per-views are now e.tv-exclusive. The rights to broadcast were previously held by satellite provider DStv's SuperSports channel. e.tv was the first international broadcaster of WWE Superstars. Although e.tv are 3 weeks behind schedule of WWE programing.

In June 2004 e.tv started broadcasting the very popular American Soap, The Young and the Restless. The show used to air in South Africa until SABC 3 cancelled it in 1999. Since e.tv has started broadcasting Y&R again, it has become a very successful show for the channel.

New Look

To fit in with their new 24 hour news channel, etv changed their look, giving it a simplistic look and modern design.

See also



References



External links




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