MMA and SOS Respond to the Latest Revelations on the SABC/Multichoice Deal

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The SOS Coalition (SOS) and Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) are shocked by the recent revelations made public today, 29 November 2017, regarding the way in which the SABC / Multichoice deal was formed. We have always maintained that the deal was not in the public interest or that of the SABC, but we had no clear understanding of just how dodgy it was. Given the communication noted in the board meeting minutes, what we see seems to provide clear grounds for an investigation into  collusion and cartel like behavior.

According to a statement made by the Democratic Alliance, as well as the City Press article, “MultiChoice accused of ‘kickbacks’ in SABC deal” the  minutes form part of the documentation handed over to the Parliamentary Inquiry earlier this year. The minutes raise very pertinent questions in relation to the case that SOS and MMA took to the Competition Commission (read more about the case here). MMA and SOS had argued that the deal was potentially a notifiable merger. After several court appearances and arguments, the case reached its fulcrum in the Constitutional Court last week (read brief summary here). Importantly, the issue before the court was not whether it was a merger or not but rather on the powers of investigation of the Competition Commission.

The matter there arose precisely because the SABC had not provided all documentation to the Commission. It seems from our initial glance that these minutes (made public today) were not included in the material. Had the minutes been included, it is likely they would’ve supported our contention of a merger. MMA and SOS argued that a core aspect of a merger was that a central element of control of the SABC had been handed over to Multichoice. We say this as it is clear that the adoption of a position in relation to encryption was central to the deal. Not only was it a deal breaker element but it was also clearly an element for which the SABC was to be rewarded.

What is important to remember is that there is now a new board at the SABC as well as a new top management at Naspers. In light of the revelations, MMA and SOS suggest (and hope) that a full inquiry will be instituted, and if any competition law offenses are indicated, that both parties will cooperate fully with the Commission.

The minutes have also raised more questions about the ANN7 contract and what benefit was accrued as a result of increasing the annual payment amount. MMA and SOS support the calls for full transparency around this deal. It is imperative that, in light of the SABC minutes, that all minutes and any other communications are made available and an inquiry held without delay.

It is critical that we get clarity on both these deals and that any party found to be guilty of corrupt dealings are held accountable for their actions. Accordingly, we believe the minutes will have significant implications for our existing case and the Competition Commission’s decision to investigate, but they also now offer up the very really possibility of the Commission launching an investigation into cartel like behavior.

SOS and MMA also call on the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on communications to institute a thorough investigation into allegations of a corrupt relationship between Minister Faith Muthambi, the Guptas and Multichoice.

 

Issued on behalf of SOS: Support Public Broadcasting and Media Monitoring Africa 

For more information contact:

 

Duduetsang Makuse

Coordinator: SOS Coalition

+2760 911 5889 / duduetsang@soscoalition.org.za

 

William Bird

Director: Media Monitoring Africa

+2782 887 1370 / williamb@mma.org.za

OR

Thandi Smith

Head of Policy, Media Monitoring Africa

+2773 470 7306 / thandis@mma.org.za

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