'ANN7 served as front to defraud the state' – EFF

Johannesburg - The EFF on Wednesday welcomed Naspers' MultiChoice's decision to rid itself of Gupta-linked ANN7, saying the channel served as a front to defraud the state.

This comes after MultiChoice announced on Wednesday that it would not renew the channel's contract. 

ANN7’s contract will come to an end in August. Instead, a new black-owned news channel will be introduced.

READ: Naspers won't renew contract with Gupta-linked ANN7

In November 2017, News24's Gupta Leaks report detailed how MultiChoice agreed to pay the Guptas' Infinity Media Networks a "once-off" payment of R25m in 2015. 

The payment was not deemed as corruption in an internal investigation, headed by MultiChoice board member Don Eriksson.

In December 2017, documents showed that MultiChoice had also agreed to increase its annual payment for Infinity's ANN7 news channel from R50m to just over R140m.

"This has nothing to do with the actual journalists in its employ, but the activities of those who own it and benefit from its corrupt activities with government departments," EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said. 

He said Multichoice also had to find a way to negotiate with the new players to integrate workers from ANN7.

"This means the phasing out of ANN7 must coincide with allowing its staff employ to transfer to a new, genuinely black-owned media house," Ndlozi said.  

The EFF has also called on Parliament's Portfoilo Committee on Communications to institute its inquiry into state capture, in order for Minister of Public Service and Administration Faith Muthambi to be held responsible for her role.

Meanwhile, the government said it was disappointed in MultiChoice for not renewing the contract.

Communications Minister Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane said Dstv viewers would not have access to the diversity of voices that ANN7 had. 

"However, there is a lesson to be learned going forward in that, as government we need to look at how our current policies are structured in relation to increasing diversity of media ownership," Kubayi-Ngubane said. 

READ: 6 points on the MultiChoice findings about ANN7

The Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) has welcomed the decision. 

The non-profit civil action organisation has called on the new commission of inquiry into state capture to investigate funding for ANN7 and The New Age. 

OUTA's CEO Wayne Duvenage said taxpayers' money had been used to support a private company linked to the Guptas and this "appeared to be reciprocated with biased reporting which often downplayed President Jacob Zuma's detractors".

"They had no reason to pay more money to ANN7, so what was the motivation for this decision?" Duvenage asked.

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