South African pay-TV firm MultiChoice, which owns DStv and M-Net, has dismissed allegations stemming from leaked emails that it paid millions in bribes to the Gupta-family owned news channel ANN7 in order to influence former Minister of Communications Faith Muthambi to advocate for unencrypted set-top boxes for digital terrestrial television migration in South Africa.
The country’s opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), have since called for the company to disclose the full nature of its relationship with the TV channel, the former Minister and the Gupta family in what they suspect to have been underhanded dealings by MultiChoice in a bid to maintain its dominance within the country’s Pay-TV market.
“While we understand that some people may not be aware of it, it is standard practice to pay for mainstream news channels – particularly for local 24-hour news channels. The fee structure for the ANN7 contract is in line with the costs of developing and running such a channel, and ANN7 is definitely not the highest-paid local news channel on the DStv platform. The R25m fee referred to in the articles is also not unusual.”