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ANN7 staff fear job cuts

ANN7 owner Mzwanele 'Jimmy' Manyi has a huge task in his hands steadying the TV station .
ANN7 owner Mzwanele 'Jimmy' Manyi has a huge task in his hands steadying the TV station .

Fears of job losses have gripped ANN7 employees after pay-TV company MultiChoice announced its decision to cut ties with the Gupta- linked 24-hour news channel.

MultiChoice CEO Calvo Mawela announced that the platform broadcaster will not be renewing its contract with the channel in August when the current one lapses.

The decision seemingly didn't come as a surprise to some staff members who had been reassured of the future by new owner Mzwanele Manyi about two weeks ago.

A staff member who spoke on condition of anonymity said: "The general [Manyi] told us everything was fine and that we need not worry [about the channel's future]."

Some staff members yesterday watched the announcement on TV and apparently joked about how unemployment stared them in the face.

"For me, it was something I expected so there was no anxiety or any sadness when the announcement was made," another staffer said.

Manyi called an emergency meeting late yesterday afternoon to explain what the decision meant for the channel.

Mawela said they had made mistakes, which included not conducting due diligence around ANN7.

"And when concerns were raised around ANN7, we didn't bring them to the attention of the [MultiChoice] board," Mawela said.

MultiChoice's risk and audit committee reviewed the contract between the pay-TV company and ANN7.

The review followed last year's controversy over a suspicious R25-million upfront payment by MultiChoice to ANN7, which was revealed in leaked Gupta e-mails.

Mawela said the board took a decision not to renew the contract, worth "above R100- million".

He said because a lot of people were going to lose their jobs, they were cutting ties with ANN7 in the most sensible way.

"We are allowing it [the contract] to come to an end... it gives the employees at ANN7 enough time to decide their future plans."

Mawela said the decision had been communicated to Manyi. "He has accepted our position and is considering what we've shared with him."

Manyi had not responded to Sowetan's request for comment at the time of going to print.

Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini slammed MultiChoice's decision.

"These multinationals or monopolies who continue to grow on the strength of the workers of this country make these decisions without considering their impact on those workers," he said.

"It is a problem . and that issue is clear in our minds, that jobs are definitely going to be destroyed . unless ANN7 is able to get the right to air and is able to make money..." -
Additional reporting by Mpho Sibanyoni

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