PORT ELIZABETH, February 1 – The Progressive Professionals Forum (PPF) on Thursday condemned South Africa’s MultiChoice, saying that it was “shameful” that the video and entertainment company decided to “succumb to pressure” by not renewing its contract with the Africa News Network (ANN7), founded by the Gupta family.
Announcing the decision on Wednesday, Multichoice CEO Calvo Mawela said although there was no evidence of corruption with the Midrand-headquartered ANN7, Multichoice had found that there were some mistakes made in contractual negotiations between the two companies.
Multichoice has decided not to renew its broadcast contract with ANN7 when it expires in August.
In a statement, the PPF said that the non-renewal by MultiChoice had nothing to do with contract violation by ANN7. “PPF is well aware that MultiChoice owner is Naspers. Hence, PPF has no other option but to conclude that MultiChoice decisions can only be influenced by discriminatory and media monopoly practices, especially when ANN7 is the only TV station in South Africa that is owned by a black African person.”
PPF further called for MultiChoice to immediately rescind its “ill-informed and badly thought” decision within five days.
The forum threatened that if the company chose to ignore its demands, the PPF would mobilise all progressive professionals to cease their subscriptions with MultiChoice.
In addition, the PPF said it would be approaching The Independent Communications Authority (Icasa) and the Minister of Communications with the intention to have MultiChoice stripped of its right of existence.
“We will also lodge a complaint with the Competition Commission to investigate unfair competition in the pay TV sector.”
Icasa has since said that it would be investigating MultiChoice over allegations of payments made to ANN7 and the South African Broadcast Corporation (SABC).
MultiChoice also said that in a bid to replace ANN7 on DStv, it was looking at finding a new black-owned news channel which represents the majority of people in South Africa. This was welcomed by Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane as a “progressive move”.
Meanwhile, the SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) has cautioned against the decision by Multichoice, saying that it could have serious implications for media freedom and set a negative precedent.
-African News Agency (ANA)