Multichoice: More questions than answers – Phumzile van Damme

DA MP says public needs to know whole truth about dealings between company, ANN7 and SABC

Multichoice press conference provides more questions than answers

31 January 2018

The Multichoice press conference this afternoon provided very few answers, and left many questions unanswered.

While we welcome Multichoice’s efforts in conducting its own review of its carriage agreement with Gupta-owned ANN7, it is difficult to objectively assess the findings of its investigations without sight of the full report.

A press statement, scant on detail, vaguely admitting “mistakes were made”, and holding no one accountable for those “mistakes”, simply does not cut it.

The public needs to know the whole truth about the dealings between Multichoice, ANN7 and the SABC.

It is quite clear now that the ICASA probe is more important than ever to ensure that the full facts are put on the table, and those responsible for any wrongdoing are held accountable.

In addition to requesting ICASA subpoena all contract pertaining to both deals from Multichoice, the DA will request that it also do the same for ANN7.

In terms clause 7.2 of ICASA’s Subscription Broadcasting Services Regulations:

A licensee may, by notice directed to him or her, be required to produce or furnish to the Authority, at a time and place specified in the notice such records, including documents, accounts, estimates, returns and information as may be specified in such notice and relating to any matter in respect of which a duty or obligation is imposed on the licensee by the Act or these regulations or by the relevant licence.

In a statement today, ICASA confirmed that intends to “request copies of the contracts concluded between Multichoice and ANN7 as well as between Multichoice and the SABC” as per the DA’s request. We trust that ICASA will flex its muscles and subpoena all records, including documents, accounts, estimates, returns and information from both Multichoice, SABC and ANN7. Failure by any broadcaster to comply should result in criminal action.

The DA further notes Multichoice’s plans to terminate their contract with ANN7 this year. The DA supports a plurality of voices in the media space, and do not believe in shutting down of those we do not agree with. This matter was never about whether ANN7 should be on air, but about the exchange of money allegedly to influence government policy.

The DA will continue to fight for the diversity in the media space and root out any instance where private interest seek to manipulate government policies.

Issued by Phumzile Van Damme, DA Shadow Minister of Communications, 31 January 2018