Former ANN7 editor Rajesh Sundaram describes the intolerable work conditions at the controversial TV station, from abuse of staff, to the direct involvement of former President Jacob Zuma and his son Duduzane.
Sundaram says Atul Gupta did not listen to advice from broadcast journalists he had flown from India to start the channel which led to a disastrous launch which was rushed to make money quickly.
Sundaram in his book Indentured – Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV details how Atul Gupta treated people, especially South Africans, working for him.
Speaking to Bongani Bingwa on the breakfast show, Sundaram says there was pressure from the Gupta brothers to launch the channel although training was not offered for the staff.
“All of this was because Atul Gupta and Ajay Gupta wanted the channel on air as soon as possible so that they can get advertising revenue from government which was promised apparently by then president Jacob Zuma since his son was a stakeholder in the station.”
Sundaram says he was mandated to set up a word class TV station that would rival international broadcast stations such as the BBC and CNN. Many technical and broadcast staff were flown in on tourist visas from India.
“There was a hurry to get the station on air because the president’s son (Duduzane Zuma) was a stakeholder and the president had given some kind of a guarantee that they would money from the government agencies that would come into this and that advertising revenue would then be given to back to him through his son.”
The former editor says there were a lot of Indian nationals who were flown in last minute on tourist visas to assume management roles. Sundaram says some of those people could not even speak proper English.
“The former editor says there were a lot of Indian nationals who were flown in last minute on tourist visas to assume management roles. Sundaram says some of those people could not even speak proper English.”
“Atul Gupta did not understand all of this because he had no sense of what broadcast is about. He would rush into the gallery and scream at people. There were a few instances where he would hit people.”