Broadcaster CNN has denied reports that it has an arrangement with the Mandela family to broadcast former president Nelson Mandela’s eventual funeral.
“There is absolutely no truth to the allegation that CNN has bought the rights to the Mandela funeral,” it said in a statement today.
“We would consider it inappropriate to discuss this issue in the current circumstances.”
A representative of CNN’s South African PR firm refused to elaborate further, telling News24 today there was nothing to add to the statement.
CNN’s local bureau chief Kim Norgaard tweeted yesterday: “Suggestions that the funeral of Mandela has somehow been ‘sold’ to CNN are deeply offensive. It is not true. Our thoughts are with Madiba.”
The Sunday Independent reported that Mandela’s daughter Makaziwe Mandela and her niece Ndileka held a sensitive meeting at the end of June with officials from the SABC and presidency over the funeral. The SABC is the official broadcaster.
According to the report, SABC officials said the Mandelas “demanded” that CNN be given “preferential” access and status to the funeral.
“We are aggrieved and understandably so. But there appears to be little we can do as the family appears to have their own plans,” an unnamed official told the Sunday Independent.
“This wasn’t a request. It was a demand,” another official said. “The CNN deal seems to be done and dusted.”
Makaziwe Mandela refused to speak to the Sunday Independent about the alleged deal unless the officials who spoke to the newspaper were identified. In an interview with the SABC last month, she labelled the international media “racist” and “vultures” over the media frenzy outside the hospital.
According to the newspaper, the alleged demand for special treatment for CNN is unclear, as the there is a long-standing arrangement with other broadcasters that the SABC will be the only TV crew present, and will provide live footage to other networks free of charge.
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