Naspers says it will not appear before Zondo commission over damning allegations
Johannesburg - Naspers said it will not attend the Zondo commission of inquiry to respond to allegations made by former communications minister Yunus Carrim at the Commission of Inquiry into State Capture on Tuesday that it had captured the pay TV space and shortchanged the SABC.
Carrim had on Tuesday at the commission accused Naspers of having captured and monopolised the pay-TV space through a 2013 deal that gave MultiChoice access to the SABC's archives. Included in the deal was a proviso that the SABC would broadcast a news channel on the pay television service providers DSTV platform. The deal also resulted in an entertainment channel, SABC Encore, which also airs on DSTV. The SABC would be paid R553 million over five years.
Carrim described the deal as an example of capture of the pay-TV regulator.
In response to the claims, Naspers spokesperson Shamiela Letsoalo said after going through Carrim’s allegations, the company had realised that he had not suggested that Naspers had done anything illegal.
“We accordingly notified the Commission that Naspers did not intend to exercise its rights to give evidence, to call witnesses or to cross-examine witnesses in response to the notice received from the Commission,” said Letsoalo.
Carrim told deputy chief Justice Raymond Zondo that the deal meant that unlike MultiChoice, SABC would not encrypt its broadcasts.
“The (MultiChoice) encryption had nothing to do with the commercial deal.
“When you ask MultiChoice representatives why it is there, they do not give you an answer. I was told to approach ICASA about this and someone did," he said.
Carrim said SABC would be paid a lesser amount of money for allowing MultiChoice access to its archives, which he estimated to be worth about R1 billion.
"It was not just the fact that MultiChoice would have access, it was also that the value of archives was substantially reduced as to what MultiChoice offered. "Those archives were probably worth around R1 billion," he told the commission.
Commission spokesperson Rev. Mbuyiselo Stemela said it was not yet clear whether Naspers would be called to appear before the commission to answer to Carrim's allegations.
“It has not been confirmed yet. When we confirm that a witness is going to appear before the commission we send out communication to all media houses,” said Stemela.