The Right2Know Campaign notes that MultiChoice will not renew ANN7’s contract come August 2018.
R2K makes no defence for ANN7 for its editorial angles, standards of journalism, links to misuse of public funds, nor controversial Gupta payments. We do however believe this decision is bad for media freedom and media diversity, and highlights the continued challenges of concentrated media ownership in South Africa.
The underlying issue is the lack of public and alternative media platforms in the favour of concentrated commercial space. In a less monopolistic environment, a contractual dispute between two commercial entities would be of little public consequence. But where MultiChoice controls the vast bulk of the subscriber TV market, this dispute is of much greater consequence. MultiChoice and the South African government have worked hard together to create these conditions.
It is hard not to view MultiChoice’s decision as a cynical move, designed to shortcut ICASA’s probe of its payments to the SABC and ANN7, or to try repair the reputational harm it has done to itself with these payments.
It is of great concern that this decision may lead to further layoffs of media workers, in a context of shrinking newsrooms across the industry. It is in this view that we demand that whoever is going to acquire the slot that replaces ANN7 to re-employ ANN7 staff who are below management level. Workers should not be punished because of bad decisions taken by management.
We call on the government to invest seriously in opening up the media space for truly independent and alternative journalism. For democracy to thrive in South Africa, we need strong, critical, well-funded, independent and credible media sector, that is free from government and corporate control. We demand more media, not less!
For more comment, please contact:
Busi Mtabane: R2K National Communicator – 083 329 7844
Dale McKinley: R2K NWG Member – 072 429 4086