NEWS
31/01/2018 15:54 SAST | Updated 31/01/2018 15:56 SAST

Guptas Get The Axe (But Nobody Else Does) In MultiChoice Probe Of ANN7 Deal

Investigation finds no corruption but says contract with ANN7 was not struck with sufficient due diligence.

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Bob van Dijk, Naspers CEO and MultiChoice board member.

MultiChoice will not renew its contract to host ANN7, the formerly Gupta family-owned television station. This could likely mean the death knell for the broadcaster now owned by Mzwanele Manyi as the annual payment from MultiChoice is the biggest proportion of its revenue.

MultiChoice had notified Manyi that it will not renew the contract and he was weighing up his options.

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Scalded by a scandal at the end of 2017, which revealed details of the broadcasting multinational's contract and closeness to the Gupta empire, MultiChoice on Tuesday moved to put a distance between itself and allegations that it was part of the state capture network.

The board had instituted an investigation into the contract with ANN7 and brought in auditors and a law firm to assist it. The investigation found no evidence of corruption or payments in return for assistance with achieving its policy objectives. The investigation will not be made public as it contained sensitive commercial information, said the company.

A contrite company acknowledged that its managers had made mistakes in its dealings with ANN7 and in how it lobbies government. MultiChoice SA CEO Calvo Mawela said the company is drawing up a policy to govern how it lobbies government and political parties.

This is because the reports last year revealed policy recommendations, written by MultiChoice, were sent on to former communications minister Faith Muthambi.

The minister, in turn, sent these to the Gupta family, according to the #Guptaleaks emails.

Lobbying is a very important part of MultiChoice as the company is reliant on a public licence to operate and on a conducive policy environment.

No MultiChoice executives were axed although they had made mistakes. The company preferred to take collective responsibility and ameliorative action, said Naspers CEO Bob van Dijk. The company emphasised repeatedly that MultiChoice Africa CEO, Imtiaz Patel, who works out of Dubai, had always acted in the company's interests even though he was a friend of the Gupta family, the investigation found.

MultiChoice and Naspers on Tuesday took a very different approach to its earlier policy of denying that it had done anything wrong in its dealings with ANN7.

The company acknowledged that its brand stature had taken a knock and that the public had taken offence at the revelations.

The MultiChoice deal with ANN7 is being investigated by the industry regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).