Broadcaster e.tv plans to take legal action “as soon as we are able” over a funny, satirical article which e.tv claims is “defamatory” and which says, tongue-in-cheek, that e.tv is doing a new reality show just before the elections, titled Zuma’s Housewives which will follow the wives of president Jacob Zuma.
The South African free-to-air commercial broadcaster which should be championing freedom of speech, now appears as if e.tv can’t handle a satirical joke when that joke is on e.tv.
e.tv is slamming the piece “announcing” Zuma’s Housewives as coming to e.tv as “malicious, false and mischievous” and says e.tv will be taking legal action – although its a satirical news story which isn’t real and isn’t meant to be taken as real.
E.tv appears clueless about the nature of the article on website Lifestyle Tabloids which first appeared yesterday – although its marked “satirical” at the end of the article, and also states that “the publication of this article is protected by our disclaimer policy”.
Lifestyle Tabloids says in that disclaimer policy that its satirical articles should be viewed as “only a parody” and that these articles are “written to highlight the state of nations, celebrity and current affairs and should therefore be regarded as humour”.
Lifestyle Tabloids does satirical news stories similar to The Onion in America.
In the satirical article, it is said that e.tv will be doing a “housewives reality show set against the backdrop of president Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla village “profiling the pleasure and pressures which four women encounter as wives of a South African president” and that it will start on e.tv just before 2014’s general elections.
Media savvy readers, industry experts and qualified journalists know that no broadcaster anywhere in the world would ever do a show with high political exposure just before an election of specific people linked to that election out of fear of possible favouritism.
In the funny article, Lifestyle Tabloids’ breathlessly report on what is to become “Africa’s most watched television show”, with creator and series producer Shaka Sisulu promising that “the dramatics, footage of the housewives’ jealous rivalry and jaw-dropping cat-fights will remain unedited, reassuring Bonang Matheba and Kelly Khumalo that they are not the only straatmates alive.”
e.tv, which seems unaware that the article is satirical in nature is blasting the article – incorrectly calling it Lifestyle Tabloid without the “s” in an official statement – and saying “e.tv is not associated with a programme such as this”.
e.tv says the article is “defamatory and also undermines the channel’s integrity”.
e.tv is currently broadcasting shows such as Cheaters in which people are shown who cheat on each other, Ripley’s Believe it or Not, Totally Outrageous Behavior Caught on Tape as well as Playboy Playmates and Bikini Babes.
e.tv appears to have taken the article on the website at face value, thinking that it is real reporting on a website where other articles carry headlines such as “Editor arrested for publishing photos of Nkandla”, “President Robert Mugabe’s son reveals his homosexuality” and “Quick & Easy Mobile Abortion Clinics Proposed” – all stories which are clearly satirical in nature and marked as such.
“We do not understand the motive for its publication and do not wish to speculate,” says e.tv in a statement about Zuma’s Housewives.
“We do not know if it is a publicity stunt with an ulterior motive or whether it was published with a more malicious intent, but e.tv wishes to express its disappointment and concern at the publication. e.tv will seek to find the company or individuals responsible for the publication and will most certainly take legal action as soon as we are able.”
The broadcaster also feels it necessary to say in its press statement that an e.tv press conference didn’t take place in Craighall to announce the show. The satirical article says e.tv held a press conference in Craighall to announce the housewives of Nkandla reality show.
E.tv declined to respond to specific questions TV with Thinus made in response to e.tv’s media statement, asking what e.tv sees as defamatory, who exactly is being defamed and whether e.tv regards such a possible show about presidential housewives as bad.
TV with Thinus also asked whether its correct to say that e.tv plans to take legal action against a satirical article.
Legal action against any form of satire from e.tv in South Africa would be strange, given that e.tv’s sister channel eNCA, the 24-hour news channel on MultiChoice’s DStv platform has the satirical TV news show Late Nite News with Loyiso Gola which features Nkandla on a weekly basis in its own satirical references.
TV with Thinus also asked e.tv why the broadcaster says that “we do not understand the motive for its publication” if the Lifestyle Tabloids site clearly states that it does political satire under the “About Us” category. Anyone can quickly access what the site is about to find out more about the website.
Did e.tv research the site before e.tv issued the press statement on the article? The broadcaster didn’t answer. Did e.tv read the disclaimer which is published at the end of the article where it says no party should rely on the information and act on the contents of the stories, especially satirical stories?
E.tv’s spokesperson Matla Ragoasha tells TV with Thinus in a general response that the article in question “was not being seen as satirical by a number of journalists who were asking questions regarding the show.”
“Given this, the channel felt that the article could be easily misinterpreted as genuine. The e.tv publicity department received numerous queries from journalists throughout the day. The reader of the website would need to look into other pages to work out that it is satirical,” Matla Ragoasha tells TV with Thinus.
“e.tv feels that the article misrepresents our brand and content strategy.”
Lifestyle Tabloids’ editor-in-chief Kenneth Bassito Mahloane, didn’t respond to a media enquiry made regarding e.tv’s reaction to the satirical piece.
It’s unclear whether e.tv contacted or tried to contact Kenneth Bassito Mahloane and Lifestyle Tabloids before the broadcaster released today’s press statement. – TV with Thinus
Facebook: Lifestyle Tabloids