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Guptas had nothing to do with ANN7 contract, says MultiChoice

MultiChoice says its audit and risk committee investigation has found no evidence of corruption even though some mistakes were made in the lobbying process.

Calvo Mawela, CEO of Multichoice SA, details the findings into the company’s relationship with ANN7 at a press briefing on 31 January 2018. Picture: Ihsaan Haffejee/EWN

JOHANNESBURG - MultiChoice says former CEO Imtiaz Patel’s relationship with the Guptas had no influence over the contract agreement with ANN7.

The TV channel was previously owned by the controversial family, and MultiChoice has been accused of paying millions of rand to ANN7 to allegedly influence the country’s long-stalled digital migration from analogue to digital TV.

MultiChoice says its audit and risk committee investigation has found no evidence of corruption even though some mistakes were made in the lobbying process.

At the time ANN7 was paid by MultiChoice, Patel was CEO and his connection to the Guptas recently made headlines.

But the newly-appointed chief executive Calvo Mawela says the money paid to ANN7 had nothing to do with MultiChoice’s stance on digital migration.

“Mr Patel’s previous relationship with the Guptas played no role in the terms negotiated for the ANN7 channel and that he acted in the interest of the company at all times.”

LISTEN: ‘ANN7 failed to adhere to journalistic principles’

Nevertheless, ANN7 will no longer be broadcast on DStv when its contract expires at the end of August.

MultiChoice will be opening the bidding process for a new black-owned news channel.

NO EVIDENCE OF CORRUPTION

MultiChoice has admitted to mistakes regarding the communication around its ANN7 contract but insists that all payments made to the TV channel were above board.

The broadcaster was accused of paying the satellite TV giant allegedly to influence South Africa’s long-stalled digital TV migration.

However, MultiChoice says following its investigation, its decided that it wouldn’t be appropriate to extend its contract with ANN7.

Mawela has stressed that there’s no evidence of corruption in relation to its contract with ANN7.

“Do we admit that we’re a part of state capture? No. MultiChoice paid an amount to ANN7 for a start-up 24-hour news channel that was substantially lower than that paid to eTV.”

Meanwhile, The Communications Department says it’s disappointed that DStv viewers won’t have access to the diversity of voices that ANN7 has also contributed to the country’s media landscape.

The department has responded to MultiChoice's decision to dump the channel, reiterating that the government won’t get involved in contractual matters between private parties.

Spokesperson Ireen Magwai said: “The government is pleased by the progressive move by MultiChoice to find a new black-owned news channel to represent the majority of people in South Africa. We believe that it’s imperative to ensure that there’s a diversity of media ownership.”

FULL STATEMENT: MultiChoice looking for new channel to replace ANN7

MultiChoice Press Statement - 31 Jan 2018 by Primedia Broadcasting on Scribd