e.tv made South African television history when the free-to-air commercial TV channel did the country’s first TV news bulletin broadcast done from home. On Monday night – after days of web-conferencing, technical set-up and strategising – the news bulletin on e.tv was broadcast from news anchor Annika Larsen’s dining room table inside her house in Cape Town.
This footnote to South African television history endearingly included a dog that first barked and later made a quick appearance on-screen during the bulletin. On Wednesday last week, eMedia Investments’ Cape Town building in the Zonnebloem suburb was closed for a deep-clean after the untimely death of cameraman Lungile Tom who worked for e.tv News, eNCA (DStv 403) and eNuus. Over 70 staffers were forced into self-isolation for 14-days and quarantined at home.
While e.tv’s broadcasts temporarily shifted to simulcast, the e.tv News team started working on a technical plan to have the nightly bulletins originate from a makeshift home “studio”.
Annika sitting at her dining room table welcomed viewers framed by her white credenza and a fashionable blue old rotary dial phone visible in the background, saying “As you can see, we’re doing things a little differently right now”.
“I’m coming to you from my living room; you can hear my dogs are barking outside and going berserk at something, which is just horrendous, but welcome to my home; my dining room.
“You are watching e.tv News, but things are going to be rather different tonight. We, like many South Africans at e.tv News and Sport, have been affected by Covid-19, which is just a stark reminder that no one is immune to this pandemic,” said Annika.
“Tragically last week we lost a staff member to Covid-19, and our studios in Cape Town which is where we broadcast from had to be closed to be disinfected. So, we’ve been thinking – scratching our heads for the past few days on how we can still bring the news to you.”
“We’ve had producers, IT departments, cameramen, everybody all at home, including the technical team. But we came up with a plan: We’re going to bring you the news from home. As you can see, we’re doing it tonight from my living room.”
“This is a first, not just for us, but probably for South African broadcasting too, and things aren’t as smooth as they always seem. You can hear dogs barking in the background, we might have some sort of technical glitch – we’re really going to need you to be patient with us,” said Annika. “We feel that you’re family, and so you’re welcome into our living room. And with that, let’s go to your top story.”