INDENTURED: Behind the Scenes at Gupta TVRajeshi SundaramJacana Media When the Gupta-owned 24-hour television station African News Network (ANN7) launched in August 2013, audiences were mesmerised — by the amateurish visuals, off cue presenters, inexplicable blackouts in the middle of bulletins and general unprofessionalism. This chaos trended on social media on the day, embarrassing the owners and employees. However, the onscreen drama was nothing compared with the behind-the-scenes madness that unfolded in the four months leading to the launch. For starters, the name of the new station was given by Jacob Zuma, who at the time was president. His family had a direct interest in the station, owning 30% of its shares, and was involved in hiring some of the presenters. The staff were treated like slaves by Atul and Ajay Gupta, who, against advice, demanded that they launch the station under impossibly tight deadlines. Management never provided adequate training for the new, inexperienc...

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