01/02/2018 06:34 GMT | Updated 01/02/2018 07:56 GMT

ANN7's Been Made MultiChoice's Scapegoat, Says Editor

'ANN7 believes that it is being targeted through MultiChoice by those who pay lip service to the cause of transformation of South African economy.'

Gallo Images / Beeld / Wikus de Wet
The New Age and ANN7 proprietor Mzwanele Manyi during the announcement on the shareholding of his company Lodidox on August 30, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.

ANN7 on Thursday said MultiChoice's decision not to renew its licence shows it has "no real commitment" to media diversity.

"The decision [not] to renew ANN7's license (sic) is clear indication that Multichoice like others has decided to make ANN7 the scapegoat in order to protect their own business from backlash and political pressure," Abhinav Sahay, editor of ANN7, said in The New Age on Wednesday.

"It is telling that MultiChoice repeatedly says there is no irregularity or corruption in payments made to ANN7 yet decides to not renew the contract. The decision like several others notably the banks and other service providers is based on perception and not any reality," he said.

Sahay added that MultiChoice has shown it has "no real commitment to diversity of media through new voices and perspective," while also taking several jabs at 'mainstream media'.

"Mainstream media's bias is evidence every moment as it was even in the MultiChoice press conference, where not a single journalist asked how MultiChoice could decide to make [media] poorer when it itself announced there was no wrongdoing on the part of ANN7 (sic)".

ANN7 had "stood up for the poorest of the poor... diligently exposed corruption... and provided an alternative view," he said, adding that the company's employees and the country at large would 'suffer' as a consequence of the decision. .

Read Here: How Many Viewers Does ANN7 Have?

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte, in response to the decision, told ANN7 she believed MultiChoice issue was a political decision and not a "contractual matter".

"I think MultiChoice is making a political decision to abuse the digital platform to find itself a compliant black person that will sing its tune that will not be independent," she said on Wednesday evening.

"Editorial independence is the hallmark of freedom of speech for newspapers. We don't all like at times what ANN7 says, but we must actually put our lives on the line to defend your right to say what you want to say as a media house."

MultiChoice made the announcement on Wednesday that it will be taking off the station on its DStv bouquet come end of August.

"I think what MultiChoice is doing is that they are removing diversity from the platform of news in our country. What is even more disappointing is the statement made by our minister of communications who says she is disappointed. Yes, but then [she] says MultiChoice will bring in a new black partner to start a new platform. So one must ask the question is the black partner at ANN7 right now probably not a good enough black partner?" said Duarte.

The South African National Editors' Forum on Twitter responded to the decision:

Following the announcement by MultiChoice, ANN7's owner Mzwanele Manyi said the channel's doors would remain open come August and it would be 'business as usual'.