SOUTH African viewers expressed their frustration after Multichoice removed Russian Today (RT), a Russian state-controlled international television network funded by the tax budget of the Russian government.
According to News24, MultiChoice confirmed on Thursday night February 24, 2022, that the channel would not be carried on DSTV until further notice.
‘Sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union (EU) has led to the global distributor of the channel ceasing to provide the broadcast feed to all suppliers, including MultiChoice,’ the company told the media.
On the other hand, the EU had said that it would also ban all Russian state-backed media outlets, including RT and Sputnik.
The Broadcasting Complaints Commission of South Africa (BCCSA) said it had received many complaints about the channel airing in South Africa after Russia invaded Ukraine.
Icasa to seek answers
The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) said it would seek answers as to why MultiChoice removed RT, according to the Independent Online news portal.
Icasa chairperson Dr Keabetswe Modimoeng said that they had not received any notification from MultiChoice about the discontinuation of the channel on DStv. He added that it is in the interest of the public to know why RT has been removed from DStv.
‘Given the underlying principle of the South African broadcasting system for promoting the plurality of views, it is only prudent for Icasa to enquire with DStv on the rationale for the discontinuation of the RT channel,’ Modimoeng said.
According to Independent Online, Netflix has also temporarily stopped all future projects and acquisitions in Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine.
Public expresses frustration
South African users across social media continue to react negatively towards MultiChoice for the channels removal.
The South African opposition Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party released a statement of complaint, condemning MultiChoice’s decision. The EFF said that this is a classic move by ‘imperialist entities’ who monopolise what people think. The organisation added that Multichoice decided that the only reliable international media outlets are ‘those aligned with NATO, such as CNN and BBC.’
Another political figure, former COSATU member, Zwelinzima Vavi, took to Twitter that it was unfair of MultiChoice to shut down the channel as they are paying for it. He said that the media outlet should let viewers decide for themselves to watch or not watch the channel.
‘This is exactly how the racist apartheid regime use to think! They used to tell us anything opposite their views is propaganda! What about the pro-west propaganda from CNN, BBC, SkyNews, etc? Why not allowing us to make up our minds about what we want to watch or not?’ Vavi said in a Twitter post.