Tuesday, October 20, 2015

ANC: 'The SABC and MultiChoice deal is not in the best interest of the people of South Africa', keeps SABC 'a junior broadcaster to pay TV'.

The ANC is upset with its minister of communications Faith Muthambi and will meet with her today as the ruling political party in South Africa is now hugely concerned about about the highly controversial channels deal signed between MultiChoice and the SABC, saying "the SABC and MultiChoice deal is not in the best interest of the people of South Africa".

The ANC says the controversial deal forces the SABC to remain "a junior broadcaster".

The ANC also wants answers from Faith Muthambi and is hugely concerned about the minister's abrupt policy about-turn of non-encryption for the SABC in the looming switch to digital terrestrial television (DTT) in the country, saying the bad decision by Faith Muthambi will force the SABC to remain "a junior broadcaster to pay television" in South Africa.

On Monday night Jackson Mthembu, ANC National executive committee member and spokesperson, appeared on Justice Malala's The Justice Factor on eNCA (DStv 403), saying the ANC wants answers from Faith Muthambi on the controversial deal between MultiChoice and the SABC.

In the deal worth hundreds of millions of rand, MultiChoice pays the SABC to provide the SABC News (DStv 404) channel, now running just in English on DStv and no longer including other indigenous South African languages, as well as exclusive access to the SABC's archives for the library rerun channel SABC Encore (DStv 156) with old SABC shows.

The controversial MultiChoice and SABC deal is currently before the Competition Commission's tribunal, in a case brought by the public pressure group SOS Coalition, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) and the media group Caxton arguing that the mega-millions deal between the public broadcaster and the pay-TV behemoth constitutes a merger.

"Why did the SABC agree on non-encryption in set-top boxes (STBs) for digital terrestrial television (DTT) with MultiChoice?" asked Jackson Mthembu on The Justice Factor.

"There's this agreement that is sitting between MultiChoice and the SABC. That agreement I can tell you is not in the best interest of the SABC itself."

"Because then the SABC will not have premium content, will not be able to compete at the same level with MultiChoice. Therefore the SABC will be a junior broadcaster to pay television. And I think that's not in the best interest of the people of South Africa. We don't," said Jackson Mthembu.

Although the embattled Faith Muthambi denied in a hastily released statement last week that it was discussed, Jackson Mthembu reiterated Monday night on eNCA that encryption of set-top boxes (STBs) was discussed and "extensively" at the recent ANC's NGC as well as the issue of digital TV migration.

"Definitely. It was discussed extensively," said Jackson Mthembu. He repeated that "equally the difficulties and challenges that the SABC is faced with" was also discussed.

Jackson Mthembu said earlier that the ANC had not been consulted by Faith Muthambi on the non-encryption aspect of the digital migration policy.

"If you don't have the instruments to assist you to protect those [content] rights, you won't get those broadcasting rights. You won't get wonderful films from Hollywood, you won't get wonderful rights to air sports. Therefore you will be a junior broadcaster to those that are able to protect their content," said Jackson Mthembu on Monday night.

"The government has been pursuing encryption [for free-to-air digital television signals] for some time, including the 2013 policy that government itself took," said Jackson Mthembu.

"After elaborate consultation with the industry where MultiChoice, e.tv and the SABC were consulted, those consultations concluded with a policy that said as government, on all those set-top boxes that we are going to subsidise, they will be encrypted. No question about it."

Also on Monday night Marian Shinn, the Democratic Alliance (DA) member of parliament tasked with telecommunications, appeared on Insig on kykNET (DStv 144) to discuss the same topic of the beleaguered Faith Muthambi and the ongoing quagmire of the South African government's acute and embarrassing failure with digital TV migration, calling it "a cesspit of intrigue and incompetence".