'Legal risk', not politics behind decision not to run Oakbay ads – Independent Media

Cape Town – Independent Media on Sunday said it decided not to run Oakbay advertisements in its publications based “on the legal risk associated with them”.

Oakbay Investments had wanted to run ads in Pretoria News, Daily News and the Argus as a direct plea to Absa, Nedbank, Standard Bank, and FNB to “save 7500 Oakbay jobs” by restoring its banking services.

The banks, accounting firm KPMG, and Sasfin Capital recently severed ties with the Gupta-owned firm over the family’s alleged interference in the country’s political affairs.

Oakbay expressed its “disappointment and disgust” at Independent Media’s decision, announced in a statement on Saturday. It explained the ads were not a branding campaign and followed a march on the banks earlier in the week.

“The decision of Independent Media today is further evidence of a sustained attack on the [Gupta] family and its business interests and we find it totally unacceptable that several thousand direct employees and tens of thousands of their dependents will have to suffer as a result of the campaign against Oakbay.”

It claimed Independent Media felt it was the exception to editorial independence.

In response on Sunday, Independent Media said it was not opposed to running ads from competing media owners, and that Oakbay was trying to politicise a perfectly rational commercial and editorial decision.

The media house rejected with contempt the assertion that the decision was part of a “sustained attack” on the Gupta family and its businesses.

“Our decision has nothing to do with the political quagmire that the Gupta family find themselves in in the South African political context. We confirm our right to editorial independence and to decide for ourselves, what is in the best interest of the company,” said Independent Media’s executive chairman Dr Iqbal Survé.

Independent Media condemned any attempt “at bullying and intimidation”, stating it would do everything it could to protect its editorial and commercial independence.

On April 21, Minister in Presidency Jeff Radebe said Mineral Resources Minister Mosebenzi Zwane, Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant and Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan had been tasked to intervene after the banks cut ties with the Gupta-owned business.  They were expected to report back at Cabinet’s next meeting.

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