Thursday, December 7, 2017

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) 'gravely concerned' over MultiChoice corruption allegations but hasn't suspended the pay-TV operator's membership.

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) says the organisation is "gravely concerned" over swirling allegations of MultiChoice corruption and undue influence at Naspers' pay-TV unit, but hasn't suspended MultiChoice's membership.

At issue is whether the media conglom's lucrative pay-TV unit is or was involved in undue pressure to get the controversial Gupta family through their ANN7 channel, and the SABC, to exercise pressure in return for getting their TV news channels carried on MultiChoice's DStv satellite pay-TV platform.

Explosive, leaked meeting transcripts between MultiChoice and the South African public broadcaster the SABC, as well as #GuptaLeaks contracts between MultiChoice and the controversial ANN7 D(Stv 405) channel showing massive payments from DStv to the Guptas, have raised multiple serious questions over corporate impropriety.

MultiChoice told the SABC it would pay the broadcaster R100 million for the SABC News channel but but only on the strict must-have contract clause condition that the SABC must support MultiChoice's stance on conditional access (CA) for digital television.

MultiChoice also dramatically upped its payments from R50 million per year to R100 million per year and then R141 million per year, as well as a questionable, additional R25 million payment to the Guptas for the low-rated, bad quality, mistake-filled and often criticised ANN7.

MultiChoice is paying ANN7 more despite its barely there low ratings than eNCA (DStv 403) that has more than 50% of the overall TV news audience share.

It's all created the perception that MultiChoice has paid kickbacks to both the SABC and ANN7 to use its influence to get set-top box (STB) encryption dropped from government-subsidised STBs in the switch to digital terrestrial television (DTT).

MultiChoice and Naspers have denied the kickbacks allegations and the MultiChoice board announced that MultiChoice is starting an internal investigation of itself.

Business Leadership South Africa (BLSA) - of which MultiChoice is a signed member - in a statement says it is "gravely concerned about recent media reports of alleged state capture and corruption against one of its members, MultiChoice, in its dealings with government and its content suppliers."

"BLSA continues to condemn and take seriously any behaviour that is unethical and that is entirely at odds with the values contained in its Integrity Pledge," says Bonang Mohale, BLSA CEO.

"BLSA can confirm that it has initiated discussions with MultiChoice regarding the allegations as reported in the media."

"We believe that due process must be followed to get to the bottom of these allegations. As such, BLSA will await the outcome of MultiChoice's investigation before making further comment."

"Consistent with the Integrity Pledge that our members have committed to, BLSA remains unwavering in its commitment to the highest ethical and lawful standards".

"To this end, BLSA will take the necessary decisions based on the outcome of the investigation," says Bonang Mohale.