/ 1 February 2018

Sanef: Removing ANN7 has ‘serious implications for media freedom’

Sanef says journalists had nothing to do with the dealings and decisions of the corporate arm of the company.
Sanef says journalists had nothing to do with the dealings and decisions of the corporate arm of the company.

MultiChoice’s decision to end its contract with ANN7 has been met with criticism from the South African National Editors’ Forum (Sanef), which said it needed to interrogate the decision further as it could “have serious implications for media freedom” in South Africa.

ANN7’s contract will come to an end in August, and MultiChoice has said that it will be replaced by a new black-owned news channel.

Sanef chairperson Mahlatse Mahlase said the organisation’s thoughts were with the station’s journalists who had nothing to do with the dealings and decisions of the corporate arm of the company.

“MultiChoice said in a statement that there was no corruption or irregularities in its dealings with ANN7, but still decided to take a major decision to remove it from its platforms for what it calls mistakes,” she said.

“As Sanef we believe in diversity in the media industry in terms of ownership and providing platforms for a multiplicity of voices,” she said.

“Removing a channel could set a dangerous precedent that has serious implications for media freedom and diversity when the country is calling out for more media [houses] to afford the public with a variety and multiplicity of views.”

Mahlase said Sanef hoped that MultiChoice’s decision was not influenced by political or business interests.

Afrotone Media owner Mzwanele Manyi, whose company owns ANN7, told its sister publication, The New Age, that “ANN7 [was] not going down”.

“We will study the statement by MultiChoice in the context of our contract and all the laws of the country,” Manyi told the newspaper.

“We are going to study the press statement and try to make sense of what was said in it before we can exercise the myriad of options that are available to address the issue,” he said.

‘We are fuming, we are flabbergasted’

According to the article, Manyi assured the 500 or so employees of ANN7 that they would still have jobs after August.

“Whether political or not, we do not want to go into any of those things at this point, we are going to study this and make our move. ANN7 is not going down,” Manyi said.

In a statement, the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) said it was worried about the workers at ANN7 and the thousands of viewers of the channel, following MultiChoice’s “bullying” and “draconian behaviour”.

“MultiChoice have been elevated to be [a] God of satellite space wherein they decide the fate of those subscribing to them like God decide[s] the fate of the dead if they meet [the] requirement to be in heaven or [in] hell to burn,” said PAC spokesperson Kenneth Mokgatlhe.

“The action of MultiChoice cannot go unnoticed and unchallenged in relation to [the] termination of their contract with the African News Network (ANN7). We have witnessed unfair treatment of journalists associated to ANN7 by either hooligan politicians or fellow journalists from ‘progressive’ media houses,” he said.

“MultiChoice do not have any right to bully ANN7 or any other media house for that matter. We are fuming, we are flabbergasted by this draconian behaviour of MultiChoice,” Mokgatlhe said. – News24