Hlaudi Motsoeneng “sold the SABC for a R30 million bonus”, according to an investigation by the City Press.
SABC and MultiChoice staff – who worked on a channel and archive footage deal between the two companies – said the deal was all about set-top box policy.
MultiChoice would pay the SABC R553 million over five years for two new channels on DStv. Motsoeneng earned an alleged R33-million bonus for orchestrating the deal, stated the report.
The report of the motives behind the deal emerged as part of parliament’s inquiry into the fitness of the SABC board to hold office, and an investigation by the newspaper.
Set-top box control
“17 sources and experts within SABC and MultiChoice told City Press the deal was structured around the control of set-top boxes,” it said.
Clause 7 of the MultiChoice contract deals with set-top box control, but the SABC would not provide details on what the deal meant for the country’s broadcast landscape.
“This matter is before the Competition Commission and is being dealt with there,” said SABC spokesperson Kaizer Kganyago. MultiChoice denied claims the deal was about control of set-top boxes.
According to the report, the original deal was for a 24-hour SABC News channel on DStv. The plan was put on hold after its inception, but Motsoeneng picked it up during his time as COO and “unlawfully signed” the contract.
The deal also gave MultiChoice control of the SABC’s archive.
“The entire contract – even payment in terms of the contract – was subject to MultiChoice’s preferred set-top box control, which is unencrypted,” stated the report.
The deal stated that SABC content broadcast on “digital TV” will be available on unencrypted set-top boxes.
This went against the government’s original plan to provide South Africans with “smart boxes”, which would be encrypted. The state’s set-top box policy was then changed by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi in 2014.
Final amendments to the MultiChoice deal state that should the SABC change its encryption policy, MultiChoice can distribute what “it had already broadcast” of the SABC News and SABC Encore channels.
The full report is available in the Sunday Times of 11 December 2016.