29/01/2018 06:12 SAST | Updated 29/01/2018 06:24 SAST

Icasa To Investigate MultiChoice 'Kickback' Allegations

It is just one of several investigations into claims that MultiChoice paid the SABC and ANN7 for political influence over government policy.

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The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) will investigate MultiChoice over allegations that it paid ANN7 and the SABC in exchange for political influence over government policy on digital migration, Business Day reported.

The DA reportedly asked Icasa to investigate in November last year after the allegations came to light.

On Sunday, DA shadow minister of communications Phumzile van Damme reportedly said that the party had received confirmation of the investigation by Icasa.

"The DA is pleased that Icasa has agreed that the payments require investigation. SA deserves to know whether the payments were indeed above the board, as MultiChoice has maintained," she said.

Minutes of a 2013 meeting emerged last year, in which it is alleged that MultiChoice offered to pay the SABC R100-million for its 24-hour news channel in exchange for political influence over digital migration. It was also alleged that MultiChoice offered to increase the amount it paid ANN7 for political influence. MultiChoice denied the allegations.

It is just one of several investigations into the allegations.

In December, international law firm Pomerantz said that it would be announcing the allegations in a potential class action suit, according to TimesLive.

"On December 1‚ 2017‚ the Company reported that its wholly-owned television unit MultiChoice had initiated an investigation into whether improper payments were made to ANN7‚ a South African news channel owned by the politically connected Gupta family. According to local media‚ citing leaked emails‚ MultiChoice substantially increased its annual payment to ANN7 from R50-million to R141-million over the past two years," the firm reportedly said in a statement.

According to Eyewitness News (EWN), the Right2Know (R2K) campaign lodged a complaint with the Public Protector in November, calling the payments "kickbacks".

R2K claimed that former communications minister Faith Muthambi was central to the debacle, as she had pushed for a decision on digital migration that favoured Multichoice, in contravention of ANC policy.

MultiChoice itself also said it was investigating the allegations, News24 reported.