South African satirical news show, ZA news, finally to launch

Jo'burg - Monday, 06 October 2009 - After ten years in development the satirical news show created by Zapiro and Thierry Cassuto will begin showing on Tuesday 6th October. ZA NEWS will become one of the few South African political satires featuring content based on current South African issues and news. The topical comedy skits feature local politicians and celebrities such as Julius Malema, Jacob Zuma, Helen Zille and Nelson Mandela in latex puppet form. ZA NEWS is being headline sponsored by popular airline and ecommerce site kulula.com and hosted by
Mail and Guardian Online.

"The exciting thing about the opening up of online channels is how we can entertain and build relationships with communities. Here we can develop new programs, we can engage our audiences, and we can share perspectives in an interactive environment. kulula.com and the Mail & Guardian Online make perfect partners as relevant, powerful brands and leaders in building online communities," said Thierry Cassuto, co-creator and director of ZA NEWS.

Online distribution was decided upon following massive viewership (over 100 000 views) on YouTube, and other web channels, during the lengthy negotiations with broadcasters to get the show on air. ZA NEWS has been created as short episodes that run for 3 minutes each in length from Tuesday to Friday and a longer skit on Saturday which highlights the events from the week. The shows will be streamed via web video and are available at mg.co.za, kulula.com and zanews.co.za.

"In South Africa more happens in a week than in a year in some other places. ZA NEWS is outrageous, infuriating and as funny as the news, only more so," comments Zapiro.

"Political satire is an essential part of a vibrant democracy and I'm amazed that with so much inspiration all around us it's taken so long for our country to allow political satire to get on air. Where many have proved reluctant to support this type of content, we feel strongly about giving South Africans a voice and a channel for healthy, robust and engaging debate. We need to laugh together and grow together and the power of the internet means that brands such as kulula.com are in a position to fill the vacuum through sponsorship and access to our sizable online audience," said Heidi Brauer, Group Marketing Executive Manager of kulula.com

Nicholas Dawes, Editor-in-chief for the Mail and Guardian comments, "We believe that Mail and Guardian Online is the logical home for ZA NEWS as it points the way forward for us a news and content company that is increasingly investing in new platforms, and reaching new audience. It is important that the Mail and Guardian Online does this in a way that will continue to represent our basic editorial values – independence, fearlessness, quality and relevance. ZA NEWS ticks all of those boxes and while I find it baffling that none of the traditional broadcasters have been bold enough to take it on, I am delighted that the Mail and Guardian Online is able to fill the gap."

"It's been 10 years since Zapiro and I first conceived the idea of a satirical news show using latex puppets. We are extremely grateful to kulula.com and the Mail & Guardian Online for realizing and believing in our passion and sponsoring the first season. With their support we are able to share laughter with others online, as we say at ZA NEWS, because "Here we can," concludes Cassuto.

Ends.

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