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So. Africa TV Station in Hot Water

December 2, 1998

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (AP) _ South Africa’s first free, private television station is facing a possible shutdown after only two months of broadcasts.

The Independent Broadcasting Authority took the first step Tuesday toward closing down the new channel, e.tv, over its failure to meet a deadline to begin broadcasting news, according to The Star newspaper.

The e.tv channel, a joint venture of black-run consortiums and Time-Warner Inc., was supposed to have begun broadcasting news on Monday.

Instead, acting news and current affairs director Rapitse Monthsho was suspended Tuesday by the station. A letter signed by Jonathan Proctor, head of Midi TV that runs e.tv, accused Monthso of racism, abusiveness and poor performance, The Star reported.

Monthsho would not comment Wednesday. E.tv spokesman San Reddy confimed Monthsho was suspended but would not say if it was permanent.

Last month, the Independent Broadcasting Authority found seven violations of e.tv’s broadcast license during the channel’s first week of operation, from Oct. 1-7.

Among the violations:

_No shows in Zulu, Xhosa, SeSotho and SeTswana, four of the country’s 11 official languages and the main African tongues in South Africa. The license requirement called for one hour a week.

_Children’s programming was lacking. Instead of 3 hours, 37 minutes per week it only broadcast 30 minutes.

_Too many ads per hour.

Allowed to broadcast for only six hours a day at first, e.tv’s lineup includes reruns from the Warner TV library, Magic Johnson’s talk show ``The Magic Hour,″ cop-and-lawyer shows like ``Silk Stalkings,″ and local shows on sports, current events and culture.