Rob Houwing

ANN7 still spilling the ball

2013-10-04 09:02
Sport24 chief writer Rob Houwing (File)
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.”

Er, may?

 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 way.

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


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