MultiChoice Group’s SuperSport has revealed it will stop broadcasting Confederation of African Football (CAF) content until further notice.
The pay TV channel will not be able to air the AFCON under-23 championship and qualifiers, which are meant to kick off this weekend, after the agreement between the CAF and France-based media group Lagardère Sports was terminated.
Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s executive for corporate affairs, said: “SuperSport is in a difficult position where it cannot broadcast the CAF games without a firm contract in place. SuperSport had previously bought these broadcast rights from Lagardère.”
CAF scrapped a US$1bn TV and marketing rights deal with Lagardère Sports after a Cairo court ruled that the agreement violated Egyptian competition rules because Lagardère was chosen as CAF’s exclusive agent for rights for an uninterrupted 20-year period without an open tender.
MultiChoice Group has partnered with the third edition of the annual Joburg Film Festival, which is set to take place from November 19 to 24.
Aimed at showcasing the finest films from Africa and the world, the six-day film programme will have a line-up of local and international films that will be judged on elements such as storyline, direction, creativity, cinematography, relevance, execution and technical application.
The judges will be industry-leading experts such as renowned storyteller and South African novelist Zakes Mda, award-winning actress CCH Pounder and Femi Odugbemi, West Africa MultiChoice Talent Factory’s academy director.
Joburg Film Festival executive director Tim Mangwedi said: “We couldn’t have asked for a better partner than the MultiChoice Group, an organisation that is passionate about African storytelling, as we believe our stories are our gold.
“We see the film festival as a critical catalyst for social cohesion, showcasing a special collection of films that celebrate Africa’s beauty, people and creativity and reflecting the continent’s bold spirit and talent. We are confident that, in collaboration with the MultiChoice Group, we can build a world-class annual film festival that becomes entrenched on the international film circuit and positions Johannesburg as a prime destination for local and international filmmakers.”
Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s executive group corporate affairs, said: “As Africa’s leading storyteller, our partnership with the Joburg Film Festival makes perfect sense. Our collaborative effort to bring African stories to the world and to provide a platform for local talent to shine will be an extremely positive boost for the film industry on the continent.”
The festival will allow industry professionals from the continent and elsewhere to participate in a series of masterclasses and panel discussions covering aspects of the filmmaking craft. It will also foster strong links between people and the growing film, TV and new digital media industries on the continent.
Pay TV operator MultiChoice is among the South African companies to have closed branches in Nigeria and Zambia after being targeted in protests against the xenophobic attacks in South Africa’s Gauteng province.
A recent spate of xenophobic violence and looting, mainly directed at immigrant-owned shops across Johannesburg, has led to protests against South African-owned businesses elsewhere in Africa. In response, MultiChoice has closed its offices in Nigeria’s Lagos and Zambia capital Lusaka.
MultiChoice head of corporate affairs Joe Heshu said the branches would remain closed until the situation stabilises.
“We have had to shut branches and offices to safeguard customers and staff until further notice. MultiChoice is committed to uniting Africans through our programming and cultural initiatives. We advocate equality and condemn all forms of discrimination. The ongoing violence in South Africa against foreign nationals is against the spirit of Africa and counter-productive to the decades of work done by African leaders and well-meaning organisations to unite the continent.
“We are a proudly African company and although our story began in South Africa, today we represent the African continent in all its diversity through our presence across the region. We embrace and celebrate the diversity of varied nationalities, traditions, cultures and religions from across the continent and beyond.
“This is demonstrated through our multinational staff complement, our multicultural supply chain, as well as the local and international content that we showcase on both our DStv and GOtv platforms. We believe Africa’s full potential can only be realised through dialogue, peace and unity. This is a sombre period for every African on the continent and beyond, and we urge all our customers, followers and stakeholders to shun violence.”
MultiChoice workers are making plans to stage a nationwide strike to protest at job cuts at the company.
The move comes weeks after MultiChoice revealed its intention to retrench more than 2,000 employees in its call centres and walk-in customer service centres.
According to the Information Communication Technology Union (ICTU), the underpaid workers of MultiChoice SA have decided to stand up for their rights even though the strike will affect all of MultiChoice’s 7.7 million DStv customers in South Africa who have made payment or service queries.
“This strike comes at the time when MultiChoice has deployed new integrated billing system on August 21 and it is experiencing its own failures,” the ICTU said.
“It is expected that the strike action will be adding fuel to the fire and ICTU will not stand on the sidelines and allow workers to be retrenched for fictitious reasons.
“What irritates workers most is that MultiChoice has secretly entered into a third-party agreement to service clients to perform current functions yet they claim technological usage is the reason to retrench.”
Joe Heshu, MultiChoice’s executive for corporate affairs, expressed disappointment at the strike call and said that the group would continue consulting with labour on the proposed restructure in the customer care division.
“This would be under the guidance of the commissioner appointed by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration, in line with the Labour Relations Act,” said Heshu.
“The threatened strike action is not only unprotected, it is also illegal. We call on all parties to act in a manner that will ensure the best outcome for impacted employees.”