'Monopolistic' Multichoice slammed for ANN7 move


A Deutsche Welle satellite in Berlin.

JOHANNESBURG - The Black Business Council said it was “shocked” at what appeared to be “abuse of market dominance by Multichoice.”

It was responding to Wednesday’s revelation that ANN7 would be dropped from the company&39;s bouquet after the so-called Gupta leaks last year revealed dodgy payments made to the news channel by Multichoice.

The payments amounted to hundreds of millions of rand.

In Wednesday&39;s briefing, Multichoice further said the Hawks were investigating payments made to the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC).

The Black Business Council, in a statement said, the severing of relations between Multichoice and ANN7 left much to be desired.

“The action by Multichoice flies in the face of our Constitution, which guarantees media freedom. It is concerning that Multichoice is on record that there was no corruption involved with the contract.

Furthermore, Multichoice have not stated that ANN7 was in any breach of the contract, yet such drastic actions have been taken.

“The alleged sins of the previous shareholders cannot be the burden of the current new black owner. The consequential loss of jobs is unforgivable, particularly in the current economic climate," the council added.

It said it would approach authorities about what it called monopolistic action.

In August last year, ANN7 was sold to former government spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi by the controversial Gupta family in a deal worth R450-million, funded by the Guptas through vendor financing, to make the deal possible.

READ: Sanef wants to know why ANN7 is being dropped from DStv

The South African Communist Party (SACP) also rejected Multichoice’s explanation.

It said the company cannot be an arbiter in a matter it is also involved in.

SACP spokesperson Alex Mashilo said: “As the SACP, we are a working-class party and pledge solidarity with the workers who are employed by ANN7. But by no means does that suggest we endorse wrongdoing that has been going on between Multichoice and ANN7.”

Government has also responded to Multichoice&39;s announcement, saying it would not get involved in contractual matters between two private parties.

“I wish to express my disappointment that the viewers of DSTV will not have access to the diversity of voices that ANN7 has also contributed to the country’s media landscape. However, there is a lesson to be learned going forward in that, as government, we need to look at how our current policies are structured in relation to increasing diversity of media ownership,” Communications Minister Kubayi-Ngubane in the statement.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) also released a statement, saying it noted the announcement "with concern."

"The federation finds this decision suspicious, hypocritical and deeply regrettable because it will result in ANN7 possibly retrenching some of their workers because of loss of revenue,” the federation said.

The Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF) says it is not shocked but greatly encouraged to fight the arbitrary and outrageous act by Multichoice.

It said it is a well-known fact that there has been concerted lobbying efforts by anti-transformational groupings within the country pressurising the company not to renew its contract with ANN7.