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MultiChoice to probe its ANN7 deal amidst controversy

Naspers-owned South African pay TV outfit MultiChoice is to investigate whether there was any evidence of wrongdoing related to its contract with news channel ANN7, which was owned until earlier this year by the controversial Gupta family, according to local reports.

MultiChoice will investigate whether what it paid for carriage of the channel was in line with contracts with other locally-produced channels and whether there were any failures of governance in its dealings with ANN7, according to the reports.

The move by MultiChoice over the ANN7 deal follows a series of scandals involving the politically well-connected Guptas, most notably leading to the demise of PR firm Bell Pottinger. The family sold ANN7 earlier this year.

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane

South African communications minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane last week denied that she had implied MultiChoice should investigate alleged corruption around its contract with ANN7 during a radio interview.

“There are relevant authorities of government that are competent to deal with any crime or corruption related matters. Members of the public are encouraged to follow the right channels to report any criminal activities,” said Kubayi-Ngubane.

South African reports on the case have focused on the decision by former communications minister Faith Muthambi to push for no encryption of digital-terrestrial TV. According to a number of reports, Muthambi secured extra powers over broadcasting from president Jacob Zuma under the influence of the Guptas, enabling her to push the unencrypted option.

Disagreements over whether or not to incorporate encryption of digital-terrestrial TV as part of South Africa’s digital switchover has been one of the major causes of the delay in the country’s transition to digital broadcasting.