Meeting with SABC was a 'normal commercial negotiation' - MultiChoice
30 November 2017
Johannesburg – Pay-TV company MultiChoice has denied being involved in any "untoward" dealings, including having secret meetings, or taking part in anything illegal, with the SABC.
The company released a statement on Thursday, saying it had had "no secret clandestine meeting, no kickbacks, nothing untoward, just [a] normal commercial negotiation".
"I attended that meeting – it was certainly not secret and there is nothing illegal or improper in those minutes," Nolo Letele, executive chairperson of MultiChoice South Africa Holdings, said in the statement.
On Wednesday, City Press reported that the pay-TV company, that owns DStv and M-Net, was accused of paying millions in kickbacks to the SABC in exchange for the public’s broadcaster "political influence over digital migration".
The deal is also being scrutinised by the Special Investigating Unit because of a R11.4m bonus that then SABC boss Hlaudi Motsoeneng paid himself for brokering it.
The City Press story detailed minutes of a meeting between MultiChoice and the SABC.
On November 24, News24 published an article about MultiChoice's questionable payment of R25m to the Guptas' controversial ANN7 channel, and the increase of its annual payment to the channel from R50m to R141m.
MultiChoice insisted previously that there was nothing untoward about its relationship with ANN7.
MultiChoice said on Thursday that a meeting had been held at the request of the SABC on their premises.
It said the meeting was recorded, "like other SABC board meetings", with top management and board members of both parties represented.
MultiChoice denied having made corrupt payments to the SABC for their support on non-encryption of set top boxes.
"This, among other statements, is [a] commercial discussion, mere sales talk to manage financial expectations. It is well known that we pay for many news channels. SABC wanted MultiChoice to pay as much as possible and MultiChoice wanted to pay as little as possible."
The company also quoted from minutes of the meeting.
"From the minutes, it’s clear that the decision on encryption was not one the SABC could make. Ms LP Mokhobo, the chairperson of that meeting, makes this clear: '…. this decision is really a government decision. The SABC has no power over it'."
MultiChoice further stated that it had a clear standpoint on encryption.
"Our view was well known. The contestation was fierce and both sides lobbied hard for their respective positions. The decision on encryption was made by government in policy. The minister’s policy decision was that of no encryption and led to extensive litigation ultimately ending in the Constitutional Court."
MultiChoice went on to quote the Constitutional Court, which said that M-Net, unlike e.tv, did not depend or seek to rely on government resources.
MultiChoice said it had long-standing relationship with the SABC dating back to the early 1980s.
"The parties have bought and sold content from and to each other for many years, and will continue to do so."