Government has on Wednesday expressed disappointment that paid-TV service MultiChoice had decided to not renew its contract with Gupta-founded Africa News Network 7 (ANN7) news channel from the DStv bouquet when it expires in August this year.
MultiChoice made the announcement on Wednesday, months after allegations surfaced that the pay-TV company had made a questionable payment of R141 million to ANN7 for its former owners, the Gupta family, to pressurise government to push through a decision in favour of set-top boxes which would benefit MultiChoice. The company denied those allegations.
In a statement, Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said that government will not get involved on contractual matters between two private parties.
“I wish to express my disappointment that the viewers of DStv will not have access to the diversity of voices that ANN7 has also contributed to the country’s media landscape,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
“However, there is a lesson to be learned going forward in that, as government we need to look at how our current policies are structured in relation to increasing diversity of media ownership.”
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (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 the country, something that pleased Kubayi-Ngubane as a “progressive move”.
“It is imperative to ensure that there is diversity of media ownership bringing new and fresh perspective to the people of South Africa,” Kubayi-Ngubane.
– African News Agency (ANA)