The first couple of days of new round-the-clock news channel
Africa News Network (ANN7) a few weeks ago were so rank amateurish and riddled
with errors that I was inclined to feel sorry for them ... well, almost.
Rookies of DStv on channel 405, their constant gremlins
quickly made them YouTube and Twitter “favourites” for all the wrong reasons.
Out of curiosity, I made a conscious effort to revisit ANN7
periodically in the last week to gauge whether their sports coverage,
specifically, has got any better.
Certainly based on the bits I’ve observed they’ve all but
eliminated the violently shaky cameras and the phenomenon of their callow
presenters being nervy, giggly, stammering, hesitating and prone to
mispronunciation – and I guess that’s a good start, isn’t it?
The general flow and continuity of coverage is much
improved, right down to aspects like the newsy strips along the bottom of the
screen being much freer of glaring spelling errors, even if they still provide
baffling information at times on fringe sports that have negligible followings
in South Africa.
But now for the bleaker part: bad boo-boos do still crop up.
Earlier this week they ran an interview in Johannesburg with
an All Black representative whom the caption described as “head coach Steven
(sic) Hansen” ... which would have been fine if only it had been Steve Hansen.
Instead they’d rather embarrassingly confused him with
assistant coach Ian Foster, the person in fact giving out the sound bites.
Small beef, maybe, but they could also do worse, when they
run results during their sports news bulletins, than translate certain
Champions League soccer teams’ names into English – the language ANN7
broadcasts in, after all – instead of calling FC Copenhagen “Kobenhavn” and
CSKA Moscow “Moskva”.
By the way, the supposedly official ANN7 Twitter handle
(they’ve inevitably been parodied a fair bit, but I believe it is @ANN7tv) wasn’t
too smart in revealing at the start of the week: “SANZAR have suspended Flip
van der Merwe have (sic) for one week, meaning he may miss the Springbok Test
against the All Blacks.”
Let’s not kid
ourselves too much: all that’s happened more recently is that ANN7 has migrated
from absolutely abject to plain old poor – there’s still a long slog ahead to
woo any sense of credibility among the viewing public, in sports coverage and
probably more broadly too.
Rob’s Awesome Foursome
1. South Africa v New Zealand, Castle
Rugby Championship, Johannesburg, Saturday
17:00, M-Net, SS1, SHD
I’ve probably said all that needs to be said about the match
itself earlier in the lead-up week, and I am in the fairly well-subscribed camp
that suggests the Boks will do enough to win at their favourite venue, but
perhaps not quite manage their “maximum” task to land the 2013 trophy as well.
SuperSport have fairly staple folk on commentary for the big crunch: Matt
Pearce and Bob Skinstad (English), Hennie Koortzen and Kobus Wiese (Afrikaans),
and Kaunda Ntunja and Makhaya Jack (Xhosa). And yes, those old faves Nick
Mallett and John Mitchell, who have coached the Boks and All Blacks
respectively, will provide their usual strong, brutally honest brand of
analysis among the studio squad ...
2. Presidents Cup golf, Columbus, to Sunday, various
start times & SuperSport channels
Top-flight team golf is usually exhilarating to watch and
the 2013 Presidents Cup at Muirfield Village in Ohio ought to be no exception.
It is the nearest the cream of South African golfers get to a Ryder Cup vibe,
and this year’s world combo is crammed to the rafters with our stars (half of
the 12-strong team is made up of southern Africans). They will need all the
crusty experience of Ernie Els and the talent of Charl Schwartzel, Branden
Grace and company if they are to topple the US team led by one Tiger Woods.
Most of the action is on SS6 and SHD6 initially, with Sunday’s climax reverting
to SS1 and SHD from around 17:45. The really durable can stay up for the
closing ceremony at around 00:30 on Monday if they so desire ...
3. Blue Bulls v Sharks, Currie Cup
rugby, Pretoria, Friday 19:10,
SS1, CSN, SHD
The first team to really trounce Griquas (and in their own
backyard) last weekend, the Bulls have suddenly hit their straps and are vying
afresh for a semis berth, even if it can only be an away fixture for them now.
A week or so ago I would have made the log-leading Sharks fairly strong
favourites for this one, especially as they comfortably won the Kings Park
first-round meeting 34-18. But the tight five they have picked for this game
carries a hint of vulnerability to me ... the Bulls have a fighting chance of
avenging that August result. Still, if you push me for a forecast I fancy the
Sharks to just get over the line, even if by not more than five points or
thereabouts. Saturday’s 14:00 kick-offs between WP and the Lions and Griquas
and the Cheetahs are shown simultaneously on SS1 and SS2 respectively, by the
4. Manchester City v Everton, English
Premiership soccer, Manchester, Saturday
13:45, SS3, SHD3, Maximo
Are Merseyside and London going to unexpectedly eclipse
Manchester as centres of the Premiership “universe” this season? These are
desperately early days, but already Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham, Everton and
Chelsea – in that order – have stolen a bit of a march on both Man City
(seventh) and especially the labouring champions Man Utd (12th). The
appealing lunchtime kick-off on Saturday sees the emerging, easy-on-the-eye
Toffees travel to the Etihad Stadium to tackle a Blues team that was on Cloud
Nine less than a fortnight ago after thrashing the Red Devils 4-1 in a derby.
Suddenly they’re in a mini-crisis by their standards after successive losses to
Aston Villa, and then Bayern Munich in a disturbingly one-sided Champions
League clash. So who are the real Manchester City? Perhaps we’ll find out here;
I do just about tip them to win.
*Follow our chief
writer on Twitter: @RobHouwing