Mandela Funeral Broadcast Spat
The Times’ Jerome Starkey has an bizarre story about Nelson Mandela’s (eventual) funeral and the fight over broadcast rights…
Makaziwe Mandela, the former president’s eldest daughter, held talks with the South African Broadcasting Corp and government officials last month demanding “preferential” access for CNN, the American network.
Although details of Mr Mandela’s state funeral have not been released – it is deemed inappropriate while he clings to life in hospital – it is expected to be one of the most widely watched send-offs in broadcasting history.
Ms Mandela’s insistence on having CNN present comes despite the BBC spending months advising South Africa’s state broadcaster on how best to manage a major ceremonial event.
The news is likely to inflame tensions with her nephew Mandla, who was accused by network executives of selling exclusive broadcasting rights to SABC in 2008. He denied the deal but lost control of the funeral arrangements last week after Makaziwe Mandela won a court ruling.
The ruling also forced Mandla to return the bodies of the former president’s three dead children from his own village of Mvezo, in the Eastern Cape, to Qunu, where the anti-apartheid hero grew up.
A spokesman for CNN denied paying for special broadcasting rights, but sources inside the company confirmed they had been in touch with Makaziwe Mandela across many years and that discussions included how they could best cover the funeral.
It is understood CNN is hoping to have a camera and a correspondent inside Mr Mandela’s house and at the graveside. If the plan goes ahead, it will be the only broadcaster with its own crew inside the Mandela compound. The rest of the world’s media will be forced to rely on a live feed from the SABC.