Multichoice must disclose contract with Newzroom Africa – Phumzile Van Damme

DA MP welcomes fact that channel is 100% black and 50% female-owned, transformation of media is critical

DA to PAIA Multichoice-Newzroom Afrika contract

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has submitted an application to Multichoice in terms of the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) to request access to the full terms of agreement between Multichoice and its new 24-hour news channel, Newzroom Afrika.

We welcome that the channel is 100% black and 50% female-owned. The DA is of the view that transformation in the media is crucial in solidifying press freedom and strengthening our democracy.

The DA has always been a proponent of new competitors entering the media space as it provides viewers with a diversity of voices and opinions.

That being said, the same fervour with which we hold the public broadcaster to account, is the same we use to hold private-owned companies to account.

Past experiences with MultiChoice, especially with regards to their suspicious relationship and payments to ANN7, require the need for transparency and openness.

It is for this reason the DA has requested that MultiChoice make public their agreement with Newzroom Afrika, the list of bidders considered for the DSTV Channel 405 contract, and the ranking of the shortlisted bidders and relevant documentation for the DSTV 405 contract.

Section 50 of the PAIA Act states that: “[a] requester must be given access to any record of a private body if (a) that record is required for the exercise or protection of any rights”.Furthermore, Section 70 states that: “the head of a private body must grant a request for access to a record of the body […] if (a) the disclosure of the record would reveal evidence of (i) a substantial contravention of, or failure to comply with, the law; or  (ii) imminent and serious public safety or environmental risk; and (b) the public interest in the disclosure of the record clearly outweighs the harm contemplated in the provision in question”.

The DA is of the view that this information is in the best interest of the public as they need assurance that the hard-earned money they pay for their DSTV subscription fees are utilised in an ethical and transparent manner.

We trust that, in good faith, Multichoice will open its books to the public in order give assurance that there was nothing untoward in the awarding of the contract to Newzroom, and this will not be another ANN7.

Statement issued by Phumzile Van Damme MP, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 2 September 2018