Icasa looking into MultiChoice deals with SABC and ANN7

Cape Town – MultiChoice could face an investigation by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa).

Icasa spokesperson Paseka Maleka told Fin24 on Sunday that the regulator had referred a complaint it received from the DA, over payments made Gupta-owned ANN7 and the SABC, to its Compliance and Consumer Affairs division.

The division will then have to consider the matter before deciding if an investigation will be launched, he explained.

It emerged through the Gupta Leaks last year that the video entertainment and internet company paid ANN7 millions to allegedly influence South Africa's long-stalled digital migration switch from analogue to digital TV.

MultiChoice had since launched an internal probe into the matter, led by its audit and risk committees. The findings are to be made to the board, which will then take necessary action, the company said in a statement in early November.

The DA had lodged a complaint with Icasa on November 27, 2017. The DA also requested MultiChoice make publicly available the contracts with ANN7 and the SABC, according to the letter sent to Icasa.

Icasa chair Rubben Mohlaloga responded to the DA’s request on January 26, 2018 in a letter. Mohlaloga said in the letter that the complaint was referred to its Compliance and Consumer Affairs division “to investigate and communicate with the DA directly."

Mohlaloga also said that the parties concerned will have to be provided with the complaint as well as other relevant attachments, and be given an opportunity to respond to the allegations within a specified period. 

“South Africa deserves to know whether the payments were indeed above board, as MultiChoice has maintained,” said Phumzile Van Damme, DA MP.

“We believe the truth must come out,” she said. 

“While companies like MultiChoice should be allowed the space to do business and create much-needed employment, their conduct must at all times be within the bounds of the law, in line with business ethics and in an environment where competition is not stifled.”

The company had sponsored the gala dinner of the ANC elective conference last year, as well as a Progressive Business Forum breakfast. CEO Calvo Mawela would not comment on the ongoing investigation at the time, but spoke out against corruption.

*Fin24 is published by Media24. Both Media24 and MultiChoice are Naspers companies.

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