SABC’s 24 hour news channel needs clarity – Shinn

SABC’s 24 hour news channel needs clarity – Shinn

Marian Shinn. Image courtesy of the DA.

The decision the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has taken to launch their new 24 hour news channel on MultiChoice’s platform requires clarity regarding its business case, according to Marian Shinn, shadow minister of communications for the Democratic Alliance (DA).

“This is particularly necessitated as free-to-air e.tv offered the public broadcaster the prime first three channels of its soon-to-be launched satellite TV service at discounted rates,” said Shinn.

Shinn added: “I have written to the minister of communications, Yunus Carrim, asking him to publicly clarify whether acting chief operations officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng had the approval of either himself or the previous minister to negotiate and sign a deal of this magnitude and the expected financial benefits that are expected to accrue from it.”

Shinn’s letter requested Carrim give clarity on the reason the SABC decided to turn down e.tv’s offer and whether he or Dina Pule, the former minister of communications, and the SABC interim board was aware of e.tv’s offer to share its satellite platform.

Furthermore, Shinn has also asked Carrim to give clarity on whether the National Treasury approved the deal with MultiChoice in terms of the loan guarantee, valued at ZAR1.4 billion (US$142,4 million), which is financing the SABC’s turnaround strategy and if Nedbank had been consulted. Nedbank is the bank the loan is being repaid to.

Lastly, Shinn has requested that Carrim provide answers to how both pay-to-view news and entertainment channels serve the corporation’s public broadcast mandate.

She said due to the 24 hour news channel being broadcast on a pay-platform, it may contravene its public broadcasting mandate as well as the possibility that it may undermine its “much-delayed” migration to digital terrestrial broadcasting.

“I have also asked the minister to produce the business plan on which the MultiChoice deal was based and state whether this was evaluated and approved by the National Treasury before the deal was signed,” said Shinn.

Shinn added: “The previous board, which collapsed when the ANC (African National Congress) instructed its deployees to resign in March, rejected previous attempts by the SABC’s executive management to ram through approval of the 24-hour news channel because it was prohibitively expensive and that the structural issues that landed the public broadcaster in a financial crises have not been satisfactorily corrected.”

Posted in: Broadcasting

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