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'Gupta channel won’t get preferential terms'

DSTV says the new New Age channel will be held to the same performance agreement as all other channels.

DSTV says the New Age channel, to be launched later this year, will be held to the same performance agreement as all other channels. Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - With the Gupta family confirming it will be starting a 24-hour television news station, satellite TV service DSTV says the politically-connected group will be held to the same performance agreement as all other channels.

On Thursday, the family said it was working with other firms to launch the channel later this year.

The group said the new channel would focus on local and community news. It will broadcast in several languages. The businessmen said they were building studios at The New Age's headquarters in Midrand, and would start to hire staff soon.

DStv chief executive Imtiaz Patel said they were not paying any money to the new channel, and that it would not cost them anything to run it on their platform. But he said they would be held to the same terms as other DStv channels.

Meanwhile, there are concerns the television channel will not provide a unique service.

The head of the journalism department at Wits University, Professor Anton Harber, said he was pleased there will be more media diversity. But he said he is worried the group will battle to provide quality programming.

"While I have welcomed The New Age as an extra voice in the newspaper market, it has been disappointing to me that it has not really offered that much different or of value beyond what other newspapers are doing."

The Guptas are known to be close to President Jacob Zuma. The president's son Duduzane also sits on several boards with some of the Gupta relatives.

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