NEWS

MultiChoice Must Release ANN7 Contracts -- DA

The party stipulated that within 48 hours, it wants the full contracts, as well as records of prior negotiations, to be made accessible to the public.

27/11/2017 05:22 SAST | Updated 27/11/2017 05:22 SAST
UTOMI EKPEI/AFP/Getty Images
A picture shows broadcasting campany MultiChoice's digital satellite TV dishes installed on homes and offices.

The Democratic Alliance on Sunday called for Multichoice to release the contracts it had entered into with news TV station ANN7.

"If there is indeed nothing untoward about the nature of its dealings with the Gupta family, Multichoice will have no issue publishing the requested documents for public scrutiny," DA MP Phumzile Van Damme said in a statement.

The party stipulated that within 48 hours, it wants the full contracts, as well as records of prior negotiations, to be made accessible to the public.

If these were not released by the company, the DA would turn to the Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) to take further action.

"In terms of clause 7 of Icasa's Subscription Broadcasting Services Regulations, as a licensed subscription service provider, Multichoice is required to keep a record of all contracts it enters into, which Icasa has the power to subpoena, as it deems fit."

The political party also said that it would write to the chairman of the communications portfolio committee, Humphrey Maxegwana, to request that an inquiry into state capture be top of the committee's agenda for 2018.

When approached for comment on the DA's call, Multichoice reiterated a previous statement it issued, saying that there was nothing unusual or inappropriate with its deal with ANN7.

This week, News24 published an article detailing questionable payments from MultiChoice to the news channel, that were discovered among the #GuptaLeaks emails. It was reported that payment of R25m was made to the then Gupta-owned controversial ANN7 channel by MultiChoice, which owns DStv and M-Net,

It was also revealed that MultiChoice increased its annual payment to ANN7 from R50m to R141m.

The payments came after the Gupta family seemingly helped then communications minister Faith Muthambi, now minister of public service and administration, to get President Jacob Zuma to transfer certain broadcasting powers to her, something for which MultiChoice had been lobbying the minister.

Following the transfer of powers, Muthambi controversially pushed through a decision in favour of unencrypted set-top boxes, which benefited MultiChoice.

However, Multichoice, in its statement, disputed the findings of the article: "While we understand that some people may not be aware of it, it is standard practice to pay for mainstream news channels – particularly for local 24-hour news channels," it said in its response.

MultiChoice said the once-off R25m fee mentioned in the article was "also not unusual".

"In this case, it was a pro rata payment in terms of an amendment agreement."

The pay-TV company also denied claims of a corrupt relationship between itself and former minister of communications Faith Muthambi.

• News24 and HuffPost SA are published by Media24. Both Media24 and MultiChoice are Naspers companies.