Ajay and Atul Gupta File picture: Independent Media
JOHANNESBURG - A unit of African media and e-commerce giant Naspers said on Wednesday it will not renew its contract with a news channel previously owned by the Gupta family, friends of President Jacob Zuma accused of unduly influencing government.


The Gupta family and Zuma deny wrongdoing. MultiChoice, the biggest pay-TV provider in Africa, said an investigation found the company had not done proper due diligence on ANN7 but there was no corruption in its contract.


The investigation followed a report by South African media about payments made by Multichoice to ANN7.


Pay TV will take on board a black-owned news channel that will broadcast independently with no fear and favours. Multichoice CEO, Calvi Mawela told the press on Wednesday that they failed to perform a due deligence and reaffirmed that the ANN7 will not broadcast on the Dstv platform when the contract ends.

This gives the ANN7 employees sometime to think about their jobs' futures. The pay TV company that owns DStv and M-Net reportedly also allegedly made a questionable payment of R25m to the ANN7 news channel, then owned by the Guptas.

MultiChoice is also accused of increasing its annual payment to ANN7 from R50m to R141m in exchange for influence over the government’s position on the introduction of encrypted set-top boxes. Meanwhile, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) confirmed it would investigate MultiChoice over allegations of kickbacks of R100 million to the SABC in exchange for the public broadcaster's political influence over digital migration.

The DA believes that while companies like MultiChoice should be allowed the space to do business and create employment, their conduct must be within the bounds of the law, in line with business ethics and in an environment where competition is not stifled.

It is understood that The New Age, owned by Infinity Media, the majority owner of ANN7 and TNA Holdings, would also be probed in the forthcoming commission of inquiry into state capture.


   - REUTERS/ BUSINESS REPORT ONLINE