HCI head rejects claims of editorial interference

HCI's Yunus Shaik rejected claims that he interfered with the editorial independence of eTV news bulletins.

HCI's John Copelyn breaks down during the AGM. He could not complete reading his statement. Picture: Carmel Loggenberg/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Hosken Consolidated Investments (HCI) director Yunus Shaik has told Eyewitness News he completely rejects claims that he tried to interfere with the editorial independence of eTV news bulletins.

The channel's Chief Operating Officer (COO) Bronwyn Keene-Young on Thursday followed her husband Marcel Golding in resigning from the company, claiming she had resisted editorial instructions from Shaik.

Golding has been accused by HCI chief executive John Copelyn of breaking company rules by dealing in shares inappropriately.

In a letter to staff, Keene-Young says Copelyn told the firm's executive committee that eNCA's news coverage was problematic for HCI's other interests and that it had to be reined in.

Shaik says he is not purporting to speak for HCI in any way, but he does deny the claims against him.

"To the extent that this allegation impugns my own integrity, I wish to say categorically, it is false."

Shaik won't talk about the other issues facing the company while Copelyn says he's not going to discuss this in public.

But questions are being asked about whether Golding's claims are true and whether he's only making them to protect himself from allegations of wrongdoing relating to dealing in shares.

Golding, who was a director of the free-to-air broadcaster, was suspended after buying R24 million in shares from electronics company Ellies, apparently without board approval.

His Labour Court bid to stop his suspension and a disciplinary hearing failed on Monday.

He subsequently resigned.

In papers before the Labour Court however, Golding claims the move is part of efforts to oust him amid growing editorial interference.

HCI on Wednesday released a statement which refers to Golding's share transaction as a serious blunder.

Golding has claimed that Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel wanted the channel to broadcast a news story about President Jacob Zuma opening a dam.

He has also made reference to specific instances where he believed trade union Southern African Clothing and Textile Workers' Union had tried to influence media coverage promoting government projects.

Click here to view Bronwyn Keene-Young's letter to staff.

Click here to view John Copelyn's letter.