DStv must pull plug on ANN7, Outa says

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The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (Outa) said on Thursday that it has written to
DStv parent MultiChoice, asking it to pull the plug on ANN7, the 24-hours news
channel carried on its pay-TV platform.

TechCentral reported that the organisation, which has
long been a thorn on the side of roads agency Sanral over the tolling of Gauteng
highways, said in a statement that it has received complaints from “thousands of
concerned South Africans that their DStv subscriptions are (being) used to fund a
Gupta-connected news network’.

The demand follows news reports that MultiChoice pays ANN7 at least R50m/year to
carry the news channel. Last week, the broadcaster denied it signed a revision to an
agreement with the formerly Gupta-owned channel, in terms of which it would pay the
channel R150m/year.

But the news that it has been paying the channel at all has provoked a backlash from
consumers, especially on social media.

Responding to e-mailed questions from TechCentral last week, MultiChoice said the
draft amendment contract (PDF) — contained in the so-called “Gupta leaks’ e-mails —
was never finalised. The draft contract came to light after a portion of the leaked e-
mails were published online.

The unsigned amendment agreement also proposed changing the duration of the
contract to 10 years — so, expiring in 2024.

“The draft contract published (in the Gupta e-mails) was not signed and MultiChoice is
not part of the e-mail exchange referred to in your query,’ the pay-TV broadcaster
said. “We confirm that we have a legally binding contract, the details of which are
subject to confidentiality clauses,’ it added. A well-placed source told TechCentral that
MultiChoice’s agreement with ANN7 expires in 2018.

“Demand for clarity’
Outa has now weighed in on the subject, saying in an open letter to MultiChoice South
Africa chief operating officer Mark Rayner (the letter is published below this article)
that there is “growing demand for clarity on MultiChoice’s position on ANN7′.
The organisation said ANN7 was “allegedly initiated with taxpayers’ money and set up
to support a political bias driven by the politically connected Gupta family’.

“We are mindful of media freedom and freedom of speech and endorse it ourselves,
but we sincerely ask that MultiChoice do the right thing by heeding the call by civil
society, for greater transparency and decisive action against entities linked to possible
criminal activities and state capture,’ CEO Wayne Duvenage said.

In an e-mail to TechCentral, MultiChoice said: “We confirm that we received the letter
from Outa. We’ve contacted them and we’ll be meeting them next week to discuss
their concerns.’

In August, controversial Gupta-aligned businessman Mzwanele Manyi said he was
buying ANN7 and The New Age newspaper for R450m in a deal financed by the
Guptas.

A Manyi-owned company called Lodidox bought Infinity Media, which owns ANN7, for
R300m, and two-thirds of TNA Media, which owns The New Age, for R150m, Gupta-
owned Oakbay Investments said in a statement at the time.

The sale came as Oakbay struggled to find a banker willing to do business with it.
Bank of Baroda this year became the latest institution unwilling to provide banking
services to the Gupta family’s businesses.  — (c) 2017 NewsCentral Media

Source: TechCentral

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