The Independent Communications Authority of SA (Icasa) has demanded answers from MultiChoice after Russia-state channel RT stopped broadcasting.
Political parties have also entered the fray to demand answers from MultiChoice.
Icasa said the broadcast of RT on the DStv platform is and continues to be a commercial agreement between the subscription TV broadcaster, MultiChoice and RT.
It said the authority’s role in the broadcasting of RT has been solely limited to channel authorisation as submitted by the licensee (in this case, MultiChoice) and approved by Icasa prior to the channel being introduced.
This is a regulatory requirement fulfilled by the licensee before introducing any new channel for consumption by the public.
“Our licensing and compliance division has not received any notification by MultiChoice confirming the discontinuation of the channel on its DStv platform,” said Icasa chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng.
Modimoeng said it was in the public interest to know the reasons for this discontinuation since the authorisation was approved by the authority.
“Given the underlying principle of the South African broadcasting system for promoting plurality of views, it is only prudent for Icasa to enquire with DStv on the rationale for the discontinuation of the RT channel,” Modimoeng said.
The South African Democratic Teachers Union (Sadtu) called on MultiChoice to reinstate channel 407 with immediate immediate effect or face a boycott.
“Blocking RT is an insult to media freedom and freedom of expression in South Africa.
“We have every right to access different views on the Russia-Ukraine war, we cannot allow MultiChoice whom we pay millions of rands to play politics and take away this right,” said Sadtu national spokesperson Nomusa Cembi.
MultiChoice confirmed that as of Wednesday RT would not be carried on the DStv platform until further notice.
“Sanctions imposed on Russia by the EU have led to the global distributor of the channel ceasing to provide the broadcast feed in all suppliers, including MultiChoice,” said MultiChoice.
The EFF said it condemns MultiChoice for unilaterally deciding to remove RT.
“The censoring of Russia Today is nothing but an attempt to shut down a contending narrative to news outlets that have been complicit in genocide in the developing world.
“We demand the immediate reinstatement of Russia Today, and not this condescending move which seeks to force feed a one-sided narrative on the conflict between Ukraine, Russia and nations which belong to the hypocritical Nato,” EFF national spokesperson Sinawo Tambo said.