MultiChoice logo. Picture: Supplied

Durban – Naspers' subsidiary MultiChoice and the Communication Workers Union (CWU) announced on Wednesday that they would work together to mitigate job losses at ANN7.

The move comes after the media giant last month announced that it would not be renewing the contract for the news channel, which would see ANN7 booted from the DSTV bouquet.

MultiChoice said it feared damage to its brand if it continued with the contract. Instead, it would be launching a new black-owned news channel, it said.

According to Wednesday’s press release, issued by MultiChoice and CWU, the parties met on Tuesday as CWU "wanted to understand the rationale for MultiChoice's decision".

"The union’s primary concern is possible job losses at ANN7 and [CWU] wanted to know what steps MultiChoice will be taking in this regard.”

An agreement was made to set up a team to work on “practical solutions” to mitigate job losses, according to the press release, and to see how ANN7 employees could be “redeployed” to the new black-owned channel, which is yet to be commissioned.

MultiChoice also told the union that it would not interfere with the editorial policies of the new channel and both parties reiterated their commitment to diversity.

“We’re committed to job creation and making significant investments to grow our industry in a positive and meaningful way. That is one of the reasons why we’re commissioning this new news channel,” said MultiChoice South Africa CEO Calvo Mawela.

Former government spin-doctor Mzwanele Manyi bought ANN7 from the controversial Gupta family last year. The Guptas have been implicated in so-called state capture, whereby they are accused of landing lucrative government contracts because of their relationship with President Jacob Zuma and his son, Duduzane, who works with the Guptas.

Some, mostly corporate-owned media houses, and civil society groups regard ANN7 as a mouthpiece for a faction within the ruling African National Congress (ANC) that is sympathetic to president Zuma and pushes the agenda of the head of state.

Despite this, several of those same media houses or journalists working there strongly criticised MultiChoice’s axing of the channel, saying it amounted to censorship. Others stated it was good riddance.

MultiChoice itself has come under scrutiny for allegedly paying ANN7 in order to obtain government influence via the news channel.

Through its own internal investigation, MultiChoice cleared itself of any wrongdoing in this regard, but said it needed higher standards of diligence and scrutiny in a highly politicised environment.  

African News Agency/ANA