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Was SABC money used to fund Gupta-owned ANN7?

Veteran journalist Vuyo Mvoko dropped this bombshell while testifying at parliament’s inquiry into the broadcaster’s fitness for office.

Outside the Gupta-owned ANN7 offices in Midrand. Picture: Barry Bateman/EWN.

CAPE TOWN – Veteran journalist Vuyo Mvoko says South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) funds have been used to build rival TV channel ANN7, which was launched by the Gupta company TNA Media.

Mvoko dropped this bombshell while testifying at parliament’s inquiry into whether or not the SABC’s board is fit for office.

Mvoko is one of four SABC journalists who gave evidence on Monday, detailing political interference and censorship at the public broadcaster under former Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

“What SABC executives haven’t informed you about is they have allowed SABC money to be used to build a rival channel – ANN7.”

Mvoko says the SABC foots the bill for producing and airing the TNA breakfast briefings that regularly feature cabinet ministers and President Jacob Zuma himself.

“Yet, the money the owners of TNA make, none of it - not a cent - goes to the SABC. From the millions they make through sponsorship, to the tables they sell at those breakfasts - they do not take any of that to the SABC except, perhaps, to the people who make things happen for them.”

Mvoko says when TNA Media couldn't succeed in taking over the SABC's news, it launched a rival channel, ANN7, ‘to take on the SABC’.

"But it's the SABC that has to pay for its [own] downfall and to build this alternative channel.”

Mvoko says audience ratings show that the SABC is ceding ground to its competitors.

"Those ARs [audience ratings] - if you were to ask the SABC to furnish you with that information, [it] will show you how we are bleeding, how we are ceding ground to competition."

The hearing continues on Tuesday.

COURT RULING

Monday certainly wasn't a good day for the SABC and Motsoeneng.

The Western Cape High Court also ruled that Motsoeneng’s appointment as group executive for corporate affairs be set aside and he can't occupy any position at the broadcaster - unless a new disciplinary process clears him or there's a court review of the Public Protector's probe into his conduct.

The Democratic Alliance went to court to have Motsoeneng’s appointment declared unlawful.

The party's Elzaan Jonker says they've written to the SABC requesting it respect Monday’s ruling.

“If Motsoeneng reports to the office that he maintains he holds; we will launch contempt of court proceedings.”

(Edited by Tamsin Wort)

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