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Cope lays charges at Hlaudi

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The Congress of the People (Cope) has laid a complaint with police against the SABC’s Hlaudi Motsoeneng, claiming he irregularly sold SABC archives to entertainment and internet company MultiChoice, spokesperson Dennis Bloem said on Saturday.

The decision comes after the volatile presentation by the SABC to Parliament’s committee on communications, Bloem explained.

Cope said in a statement that it had emerged that Motsoeneng “unlawfully and improperly disposed of key state assets” in a deal in 2013 “without the authorisation of an SABC board that was quorate”.

He allegedly signed off on it knowing that only the CEO could do so, and not himself in his capacity as COO, also brushing off the advice of Krish Naidoo a lawyer and a board member.

 The Cope statement claimed this transgressed the provisions of the Broadcasting Act No 4 of 1999 and had caused serious loss to the state.

Cope also claimed that Motsoeneng got commission ”upward of” R11 million for the deal.

But SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago immediately dismissed the allegations, saying he had repeatedly stated that no archives were sold at all. He said it was a licensing deal and was common practice around the world among broadcasters.

“The archives of the SABC are still at the SABC,” he said.

Motsoeneng has been under fire after his appointment as acting COO in 2011 when it emerged that he did not have a matric certificate as he had claimed and gave himself bonuses and increases.

A Public Protector investigation confirmed this but he stayed in his position.

He has survived court challenges by the SABC to have him removed, and is still at work.

Cope picketed against Motsoeneng outside Parliament on Wednesday.

This is not the first time the MultiChoice deal has been questioned.

In February the Competition Commission ruled that the 2013 deal, which would give the pay-TV company the right to air two of the public broadcaster’s channels, did not constitute a merger to be notified in terms of the Competition Act.

A complaint had been brought by Caxton, the Save Our SABC Coalition and Media Monitoring Africa. The complainants said the agreement was a merger that had not been notified.

Main concerns

There were two main concerns raised by Caxton regarding the agreement, according to a report by Fin24 at the time.

Firstly, it was concerned that the agreement gave MultiChoice an exclusive license to use certain SABC content to broadcast on an entertainment channel on the DStv Bouquet called Encore. This channel is assembled from archive material owned by the SABC.

Secondly, Caxton was concerned that the SABC agreed to broadcast its SABC 1, 2 and 3 channels, and any future channels, on an unencrypted basis and without any conditional access system.

The Tribunal was called upon to decide whether the agreement altered the control structure of SABC’s businesses in that it provided MultiChoice with control over SABC’s archived programmes and whether it conferred on MultiChoice control over SABC’s television broadcast strategy in respect of its stance on the digital terrestrial policy.

The Tribunal also found that the entire archive was not unavailable for use by the SABC but merely the portion that related to the entertainment channel, and was then still subject to the minimum rebroadcasting delays.

This content was furthermore selected by the SABC, subject to a veto right that MultiChoice enjoys relating to the standards of quality the channel needs to meet.

The Tribunal held that there was not enough to allow Caxton to establish that the exclusivity granted in favour of MultiChoice constituted a measurable and relatively permanent transfer of market share or productive capacity from SABC to MultiChoice.

[Source: News24]
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