READ IN FULL | Behind the scenes at Gupta TV: how Zuma helped shape ANN7

14 March 2018 - 07:12 By Rajesh Sundaram
An entrance to the ANN7 Television and The New Age newspaper offices, owned by the Gupta family, in Midrand, Johannesburg.
An entrance to the ANN7 Television and The New Age newspaper offices, owned by the Gupta family, in Midrand, Johannesburg.
Image: Reuters/SIPHIWE SIBEKO

A senior broadcast journalist from India‚ Rajesh Sundaram‚ who was headhunted to lead the team that was tasked to launch the latest privately owned 24-hour television news channel in South Africa‚ has written a book on his experience working with the Gupta family.

He was lured with promises of a unique professional challenge‚ but the reality was very different. Below is an extract about Sundaram's second meeting with President Jacob Zuma in July from Indentured: Behind the scenes at Gupta TV.

He [Zuma] was shown the channel ID. He asked to see it again and again.

“Sir, if you like this montage, we will give it the final go-ahead,” Atul said.

“It looks good. It is impressive,” President Zuma said, asking to see it one more time.

He had the copy of the presentation we had given him in the last meeting with him.

“I have a few suggestions. We must not convert this into a publicity channel for the ANC and me. If we do that, we will have no credibility. You must present the views of the opposition and my rivals in the ANC as well. The push in our favour should be subtle. You are a seasoned journalist. You know how that can be done … eNCA only presents the government and me negatively. We need a channel that presents the positives that the government is doing,” Zuma said looking at me.

Despite Atul’s constant reminders that we’d only do what “suits our vision”, President Zuma’s directives on editorial policy puzzled me.

“I will be in Mpumalanga next week, and I will meet people in the local communities and announce measures for their welfare. But I am sure eNCA will not cover that. Their reporter will seek out opposition supporters and do a negative story on how the locals hate me and feel I have done nothing for them,” Zuma said.

To read the full extracts visit Times Select.

A senior broadcast journalist from India, Rajesh Sundaram, who was headhunted to lead the team that launched ANN7, has written a book on his experiences working with the Gupta family. Here are six...

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