Ex-minister claims MultiChoice used deal with SABC to influence state

Ex-minister claims MultiChoice used deal with SABC to influence state

- Former communications minister Yunus Carrim has testified over'policy capture' he feels took place when MultiChoice and the SABC entered into an agreement

- The ex-minister believes MultiChoice used negotiations to capture the state-owned entity

- This comes after the politician detailed this alleged capture at the Zondo Commission of Inquiry

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Former communications minister Yunus Carrim believes that the deal struck between MultiChoice and the SABC concerning the 24-hour news channel on DStv was 'policy capture.

SowetanLIVE reports that the ex-minister had told the commission of inquiry into state capture that he believes MultiChoice had used the negotiations to effectively capture the SABC.

The channel was launched in 2013 and would be hosted by MultiChoice's platform, seeing the company pay R553 million over the course of five years for the channel, but requesting exclusive access to archived material in return.

Carrim felt that MultiChoice had used the negotiations to influence state policy on the move from analog to digital television through set-top boxes, something the government had opposed.

READ ALSO: Court grants Zondo Commission 13-month extension to wrap things up

The deal managed to stall the planned migration and MultiChoice had added a clause in the agreement that the SABC would omit encrypting its set-top boxes:

"This for me is a very clear example of regulatory or policy capture where by irregular means you shape a government policy. There is absolutely no reason to include, in a commercial transaction between the SABC and DStv, a clause that deals with government policy."

The ex-minister had opposed the agreement and had not been reappointed into cabinet following the subsequent general elections.

Carrim insists that he had not voluntarily appeared before the inquiry in an attempt to avoid the perception that he had issues with the decision not to appoint him as a minister.

The politician said that there had not been problems with the agreement in the beginning, but he later realised that MultiChoice held a great deal of power over the broadcaster.

The archives given over to MultiChoice for free were estimated to be worth around R1 billion, with the material still being aired on DStv to date.

Former SABC CEO Hlaudi Motsoeneng had allegedly signed the agreement without the board's consent, with Carrim commenting:

"When I wrote to Mr Vincent Smith, who was chairperson of the ad-hoc parliamentary committee looking into the SABC, I set out that our problem with the MultiChoice agreement was that a big multi-international is forcing the SABC to change its policy and try to influence us as the government."

Briefly.co.za reported that Deputy Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has been granted an extension on the inquiry's deadline.

The High Court granted Zondo a final extension of 13 months to wrap up the commission probing allegations of graft and capture in the public sector.

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Source: Briefly.co.za

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