Why I won’t shed a tear when ANN7’s lights go out

Ideas

Why I won’t shed a tear when ANN7’s lights go out

Good riddance to the Gupta-allied channel's ousting from the DStv platform

Group editorial director

There’s some good news in the TV guide these days: channel 405 will soon fall silent.
Thank you, MultiChoice, for finally deciding to pull the plug on this vile turpitude masquerading as a news broadcaster.
You see, for me, this is not a press freedom issue as some of my respected colleagues have argued.
MultiChoice has done the right, if completely cynical and self-serving, thing in ditching ANN7, which was owned until recently by the infamous Guptas and Jacob Zuma’s son Duduzane, and which is now owned by one of their chief cheerleaders, Mzwanele Manyi.
Those who suggest that the television station’s removal from the DStv platform is a blow against media diversity miss the point that ANN7 is free to explore other distribution channels and to continue operating.
Of course, sustaining itself commercially, like its competitors have to, will be a little more difficult without an instant potential audience of millions on DStv and with the unravelling of its sister newspaper The New Age’s dodgy and lucrative breakfast events.
Well, cry me a river.Let’s be clear about what we are dealing with here. The Gupta media businesses such as ANN7 and The New Age were at the centre of a vast criminal enterprise that is now falling apart.
ANN7 was effectively the propaganda wing of the agents of state capture whose primary purpose was to ensure that their key agent in the Union Buildings and their crooked allies in cabinet were polished and protected and their critics vilified.
ANN7 did not play an inconsequential bit part in the state capture theatre. It has been as significant at peddling state capture dressed up in an alternate narrative of black economic empowerment as was disgraced British PR agency Bell Pottinger, which rightly went to the wall over its nefarious activities.
For example, ANN7’s direct hand in the plunder of state — and your — resources was described by former SABC contributing editor Vuyo Mvoko who testified at parliament’s inquiry into the state broadcaster.
He told how money budgeted for the SABC’s Morning Live show was diverted to finance ANN7 and that the SABC saw not one cent of the millions made from The New Age breakfasts despite broadcasting them at great expense.
The brazenness of it is simply breathtaking — finding a way to loot a taxpayer-funded public broadcaster to bankroll an entity whose sole purpose appears to be to defend the criminal corruption of the South African state. If it wasn’t happening to us, you’d almost have to admire the brilliance of it.
Amazingly, this is not the first time this has happened to us as a country. Revelations in the 1970s of The Citizen newspaper’s central role in the apartheid state’s Infogate propaganda scandal led to the downfall of prime minister John Vorster. The Citizen was established to counter the criticism of the English press. Sound familiar?
The threat to media diversity that the collapse of millions of rands of secret government funding represented was not a thing then, and neither should it be now. Even in apartheid South Africa, the corrupt use of public money to peddle lies was a scandal, and so should it be now.
The Citizen survived its ignominious origins and is now a part of the mainstream media landscape. Perhaps ANN7 and its sister in print will survive too and, in time, be able to shed their mantle of shame.
But I’m also not going to shed a tear if they don’t.

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