South Africa 2.9.2018 10:52 am

DA joins EFF in MultiChoice suspicion, submits application for information

Thabile Ngwato, former SABC news anchor and 50% owner of Newzroom Afrika.

Thabile Ngwato, former SABC news anchor and 50% owner of Newzroom Afrika.

Phumzile Van Damme has asked to see the full terms of the agreement with Newzroom Afrika.

The Democratic Alliance 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, which will be run by Newzroom Afrika, the party said on Sunday.

“We welcome that the channel is 100 percent black and 50 percent female-owned. The DA is of the view that transformation in the media is crucial in solidifying press freedom and strengthening our democracy,” DA spokeswoman Phumzile van Damme said.

The DA had always been a proponent of new competitors entering the media space, as it provided viewers with a diversity of voices and opinions, she said.

“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.”

Therefore, the DA 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.

The DA believes this information is in the best interest of the public as they need assurance that the hard-earned money they paid for their DSTV subscription fees were used in an ethical and transparent manner.

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

According to a statement released by the Economic Freedom Fighters on Tuesday, they alleged the bid was filled with “nepotism and corruption”.

The EFF demanded that MultiChoice, which they claimed to be “an illegal pay-television monopoly”, publicly issue all the information and processes they engaged in before they made the decision to award Newzroom Afrika the lucrative contract.

“We demand that all information and ratings of the private company tasked with adjudication be made public because we have it on good authority that the chosen company was not the best of those who responded to the bid.

“There is a variety of capable black-owned media broadcasters and practitioners who were isolated and the EFF demands to know the basis of their exclusion.”

The EFF claimed the selection of Newzroom Afrika was not fair, transparent or open, and bordered on nepotism and corruption.

The party said they would never be associated with the new platform, which they regarded as mediocre and biased.

They also intended to submit a request for the public release of all the bid and adjudication processes and to demand that MultiChoice be called to parliament to account about the process.

“We are aware that MultiChoice has for some time been paying bribes to maintain their monopoly position and we will start to intensify the process of dismantling the monopoly. The Competition Commission should also come out clean as to why they are silent on the unlawful monopoly position of MultiChoice, which abuses consumers and bulky competitors out of the market.”

Citizen reporter

 

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