NEWS
01/02/2018 12:41 SAST | Updated 01/02/2018 16:31 SAST

ANN7's Russell: 'MultiChoice Decision Was Political'

The environment inside the building is tense, but the future of the organisation seems secure.

Siphiwe Sibeko / Reuters

The environment inside the offices of embattled broadcaster ANN7 is "tense", but the organisation will survive, says a senior executive.

Speaking to HuffPost on Thursday morning, special projects editor Cecilia Russell alleged that MultiChoice's decision on Tuesday to not renew their contract with the formerly Gupta-owned news network was politically motivated.

"I think their decision was couched in interesting terms, especially when they said it could find no wrongdoing in their contracts, but nevertheless it was associated with one Gupta family, and that was that.

"It was a political decision, plain and simple."

Russell revealed that there would likely be job cuts at the organisation as a result.

"I think staff are justifiably concerned about their jobs in the future, and as senior people in the organisation we are going to have to address their concerns. They are seeing an uncertain future, but what we can say is going to happen is that people who are skilled can move easier – so we may lose some skilled people, but I hope that we will not have to make decisions like that at this time."

She alleged that media independence is now under threat in South Africa.

"I think that media freedom and independence in general relies on a multiplicity of voices, but I think that ANN7 has survived under extraordinary circumstances, so we will survive."

MultiChoice on Tuesday moved to distance itself from allegations that it was part of the state-capture network, after details of the broadcasting multinational's contract with and ties to the Gupta empire were revealed by an intensive investigation into its contract with ANN7.

"We support the commission of enquiry and think that matters should be investigated, but we don't believe that state capture is a simple matter. There are broad issues around state capture that are not being tackled in the mainstream press – for example, has anyone looked at the top companies that do business with the government?" Russell said.