The future is bleak for Gupta-founded ANN7, as calls mount for pay TV group MultiChoice to “come clean” on its relationship with the 24-hour TV news channel.
ANN7 will probably be forced to broadcast over the internet if MultiChoice fails to renew the expensive contract next year.
MultiChoice has refused to say exactly how much it pays ANN7 to run the channel’s content on its DStv bouquet.
The other option – applying for a terrestrial TV broadcast licence – is problematic because it will take a long time and cost millions of rands.
Reports that MultiChoice may have been involved in a corrupt relationship between the channel and former communications minister Faith Muthambi have prompted fresh calls for the payTV platform to drop the channel.
Taxpayer lobby group Outa yesterday called on MultiChoice to come clean on its financial dealings.
“Hiding behind confidentiality clauses and telling half-truths is no longer an option in today’s world of citizen power, when the public can exercise its purchase strength to trigger the demise of organisations that profit from unacceptable and undue conduct,” Wayne Duvenage, Outa chair said.
“We now call on management at MultiChoice to come clean and provide us with all the facts related to the transactions.”
But according to Media Monitoring Africa director William Bird, ANN7’s future was likely hanging in the balance should it fail to negotiate a contract renewal when its current one expires next year.
He said obtaining a free-to-air licence was not only a costly and lengthy process, it was also the least profitable way.
“Obtaining a licence would mean a host of lengthy and expensive processes likely to cost tens of millions of rands. Even the licences that have been granted haven’t succeeded. So, at this stage, if you are an ANN7 employee you may be thinking that at some point the station may be dropped and will either end up broadcasting on the internet only, or disappear altogether.”
The channel’s chief defenders, the Progressive Professional Forum (PPF), has accused critics of the Gupta-founded entity of hypocrisy and defending white monopoly capital.
Recently purchased by PPF founder Mzwanele Manyi, ANN7 has been accused of being part of a corrupt relationship involving MultiChoice after a series of unexplained transactions emerged in the leaked Gupta e-mails, according to a News24 report.
Previous reports indicated that MultiChoice pays ANN7 at least R50 million to broadcast its news content to DStv subscribers.
Bird also warned that MultiChoice should wait until after the ANC’s electoral conference next month.
ANN7 was accused of being supportive of the faction of the ANC which supports Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma after a recent exclusive interview with her most powerful backer, President Jacob Zuma.
Bird said this put MultiChoice in an awkward position, as sacking the channel now would make the company seem biased against or for a faction of the ANC.
“If Cyril Ramaphosa wins, chances of ANN7 staying on will be really small.”
Duvenage said the station was within its rights to pursue a free-to-air licence, as long as that process was executed fairly.
“So long as they are not propped up through taxpayers’ money through dodgy deals with state institutions.
The concern that adds fuel to the fire is their very biased and agenda-based news coverage.”