Naspers statement on Multichoice

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Statement by the Board of Naspers

The Board of Naspers today issued the following statement:

Naspers' Pay TV revenue up 18%

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There seems to be persistent baiting of Naspers to intervene in the affairs of MultiChoice.
While some reporting is no doubt driven by an honourable wish to expose corruption, some
of it is clearly intended to apply pressure on Naspers to force MultiChoice to take the news
channel ANN7 off the air.

That channel is closely associated with the Gupta family and, given the recent exposure of
corruption linked to them, it is felt inappropriate that they should have a voice on television
and that MultiChoice should facilitate that. A wide variety of issues, complaints and
allegations have recently been made.

A few notes about that:

  • Some allegations are even at face value spurious or even malicious, for example
    reports that the Guptas have a stake in Takealot. Or that a public meeting of the top
    executives of MultiChoice and the SABC to negotiate satellite and DTT channel
    carriage – which was called by the SABC, conducted at their main premises, attended
    by their top echelon and duly minuted – was somehow clandestine and illegal.
  • Some allegations need more time to check thoroughly. We operate many businesses
    in 120 countries and need to respect the autonomy of our operating companies,
    where we have separate independent boards, plus partners or other shareholders.
    The responsibility for dealing with these allegations lies with the MultiChoice board.
    We have confidence in them handling the matter, following their governance
    procedures. Naspers is committed to strong governance and requires the same of its
    subsidiaries. Of course, once they’ve done that properly, they will report back to the
    Naspers board and the public.
  • A suggestion by ex-communications minister Yunus Carrim that Koos Bekker once met
    with him regarding encryption is perfectly accurate. Here are the facts: this meeting
    took place in Pretoria and was for the full duration also attended by Minister Pravin
    Gordhan, whom we greatly respect. Minister Gordhan can attest to the content of
    the meeting and whether any Gupta-related or any other illegal matter was discussed.
  • For the record, neither of Ton Vosloo, previous chair of Naspers, Koos Bekker, present
    chair, or Bob van Dijk, CEO, had to their best recollection ever in any country met any
    member of the Gupta family at any but public funtions, never discussed anything with
    them, never even received written communitions or a single telephone call from
    them.
  • We understand the frustration some people feel that a channel associated with
    corruption is still being broadcast. But the nature of a satellite platform is to provide
    the largest number and the most diverse voices for the public to choose from. The
    public decides what to watch. Media freedom and diversity are values worth
    protecting in an open democracy. We do not think it wise to terminate a channel that
    participates in the debate about ANC succession barely two weeks before the elective
    conference.
  • So, in conclusion, while we understand the frustration, we also suggest that further baiting of Naspers to override MultiChoice in this matter is not conducive to an open democracy.
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