The SABC head offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)
The SABC head offices in Auckland Park, Johannesburg. Picture: Simphiwe Mbokazi/African News Agency (ANA)

SABC deal with MultiChoice ‘far worse than Guptas' state capture’

By Kuben Chetty and Samkelo Mtshali Time of article published Mar 3, 2020

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Johannesburg - EFF MP Mbuyiseni Ndlozi has labelled the SABC’s 2013 deal with pay TV giant MultiChoice as a far bigger form of state capture than that of the controversial Gupta family.

This followed former communications minister Yunus Carrim last week describing the controversial 2013 deal between the SABC and satellite TV company MultiChoice as an example of “regulatory capture”.

In a tweet on Thursday, Ndlozi wrote: “The shocking media silence on MultiChoice revelations at State Capture Commission. What Koos Bekker (Naspers chairperson) and Naspers have done to the broadcasting industry in this country is far bigger than what the Guptas did. Bekker is the pre-eminent state capturer!”

In his appearance before the commission, Carrim said his disagreements with MultiChoice on the encryption matter became very personal with Bekker. The ANC MP said he tried to encourage Naspers’ support of diversity in the commercial market.

“With Mr Bekker it seemed like a defence of profits and him protecting his turf.”

Naspers said it was unmoved by Carrim’s allegations made against it at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into Allegations of State Capture.

Carrim, speaking at the commission, testified about his knowledge and the backlash he received for his questioning of the deal.

Carrim was appointed as communications minister in July 2013, but did not return to the role following the 2014 elections.

The MultiChoice deal was signed in 2013 and was largely seen as controversial. It gave MultiChoice access to the SABC’s archives, and part of the deal was that the SABC would broadcast a news channel on the pay television service provider’s DStv platform. Included in the deal was an entertainment channel called SABC Encore, which also airs on DStv. The SABC would be paid R553million over five years.

Carrim said he was concerned that the value of the SABC archives was worth more than the offer tabled by MultiChoice, and estimated that they were worth about R1billion. Carrim said that even if the deal did not mean that the SABC was selling its archives and was just offering Multi­Choice exclusive access, this was still problematic.

He said what was also of concern about the commercial deal was that it included a clause that barred the SABC from adding encryption. The former minister said this clause had no basis for forming part of a commercial deal and was an example of “regulatory capture”.

“Here is an example of regulatory capture. This for me is a very clear example whereby irregularity means you change the policy of the SABC. There is no reason to include this in a commercial agreement. The 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,” he said.

Political analyst Thabani Khumalo said Carrim should have taken up the issue with the relevant agencies, and those agencies should have arrested the people involved in those decisions.

Political Bureau

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