OUTA welcomes ANN7 axing but questions on MultiChoice influence on Government remain
OUTA welcomes MultiChoice’s decision to axe ANN7 from its platform, following our previous calls to dump ANN7 because this Gupta-controlled news channel and its partner, The New Age newspaper, received extraordinary financial support from state-owned entities to prop them up.
“We are delighted that ANN7 will soon not have a platform to air its propaganda and accordingly, we believe this broadcaster will not last more than another few months, as its staff and advertisers start to turn their back on them,” says Wayne Duvenage, OUTA’s CEO.
OUTA believes that the whole issue of funding for ANN7 and The New Age should be investigated by the new Commission of Inquiry into State Capture.
Essentially, taxpayers’ money has been used to support a private company linked to the Guptas and this appeared to be reciprocated with biased reporting which often downplayed President Jacob Zuma’s detractors.
OUTA remains concerned that MultiChoice played a significantly influential role in Government’s action to reverse its decision on the encryption of set top boxes required for the migration from analogue to digital broadcasting.
OUTA also remains sceptical at the rationale provided by MultiChoice around its increased payments to ANN7, which started at R20 million a year when ANN7 started broadcasting in August 2013, but was increased to R50 million in October 2013 and by 2016 was R141 million. The timing of these increases, some of which coincided with the contract that the bound SABC News channel to MultiChoice, along with Government’s decision to reverse its plan for encryption of the digital set top box migration, require thorough investigation.
“They had no reason to pay more money to ANN7, so what was the motivation for this decision?” asks Duvenage.
There is strong suspicion that MultiChoice was effectively paying for political influence via the Guptas to the Cabinet.
ANN7 also apparently benefited from illegitimate state funding, particularly through its business breakfasts, with concerns that payments were higher than justified by the audience reach and that SABC resources were illegitimately used to fund ANN7. The Public Protector’s State of Capture report of November 2016 referred to the need to investigate any contracts between the SABC and TNA Media.