eTV COO lashes out at John Copelyn

Keene-Young says Copelyn claimed eNCA's news coverage was problematic for HCI’s other interests.

FILE: Bronwyn Keene-Young has told staff John Copelyn has lied. Picture: eNCA Facebook page.

JOHANNESBURG - eTV chief operating officer Bronwyn Keene-Young has told staff holding company chairperson John Copelyn has lied by not disclosing that he said the channel's editorial independence would be determined not by the news team but by the holding company he controls.

Keene-Young resigned today after her husband Marcel Golding resigned as Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) chair on Monday.

Golding, who was a director of the free-to-air broadcaster, was suspended after buying R24 million in shares from electronics company Ellies, apparently without board approval.

His Labour Court bid to stop his suspension and a disciplinary hearing failed on Monday. He subsequently resigned.

In papers before the Labour Court however, Golding claims the move is part of efforts to oust him amid growing editorial interference.

HCI on Wednesday released a statement which refers to Golding's share transaction as a serious blunder.

Golding has claimed that Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel wanted the channel to broadcast a news story about President Jacob Zuma opening a dam.

He has also made reference to specific instances where he believed trade union Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union had tried to influence media coverage promoting government projects.

In her letter, Keene-Young says Copelyn told the firm's executive committee that eNCA's news coverage was problematic for HCI's other interests and that it had to be reined in.

Centre for Civil Society director professor Patrick Bond says this shows there are major problems at the broadcaster.

But University of the Witwatersrand journalism professor Anton Harber says the channel has a good reputation.

"Instead of trying to beat the media over their heads, they have been using their government power over the media to exert influence."

Copelyn says he doesn't want to discuss this issue on the radio.

Earlier this week, Golding informed eTV staff that he was forced to resign due to a breakdown in relations between himself and HCI board members.

He has indicated he plans to pursue a claim of unfair dismissal.

Former Cabinet member Barbara Hogan also resigned as an HCI board member this week following these revelations.

Click here to view Bronwyn Keene-Young's letter to staff.

Click here to view John Copelyn's letter.