Lurking dragons: Giving up Game of Thrones may seem cruel, but there is a compelling case for switching off DStv due to its unquestioning hosting of ANN7, says the writer. Picture: YOUTUBE
Lurking dragons: Giving up Game of Thrones may seem cruel, but there is a compelling case for switching off DStv due to its unquestioning hosting of ANN7, says the writer. Picture: YOUTUBE

It’s the kind of spectacular that’s only on DStv. Audacious plays for power. Treachery and treason. Enemies real and conjured. And, of course, dragons. Always the three dragons casting their shadows across the land.

It’s another agonising hour on ANN7 and it’s exclusive to DStv. I do not have the space or emotional resilience to sketch the world according to Gupta TV. It is a place unburdened by the constraints of reality, but can we really blame propagandists for creating propaganda? Liars are going to lie.

That’s not an excuse available to MultiChoice, owner of DStv, which calls itself "the people you come home to every night" and says it is in the business of "enriching lives".

Thanks to the masters of ANN7, people who live in Saxonwold are being enriched. Not that they talk about it on ANN7.

As a subscriber and South African, I call on MultiChoice to unburden itself. Take the nation into your confidence. Why do you enable ANN7?

This isn’t the time for pointing fingers. Meetings happened and deals were made. In a undoubtedly legal way, money changed hands.

Who paid the money? Is MultiChoice paying for the right to broadcast ANN7? Maybe the channel attracts so much advertising that it is lucrative. If that’s the case, please say so, and let’s apply our minds about replacing that revenue stream.

Or is it the other way round? Are the Guptas paying MultiChoice? Maybe it’s big money. Maybe it’s in MultiChoice’s massive commercial interest. Tell us. Nobody’s here to judge; we’re just trying to understand.

Do you enable ANN7 out of your commitment to free expression and media diversity? You could point out that ANN7 is not your only news channel with an agenda. You could, but surely you would also concede that the difference between ANN7 and, say, Russia Today is that Russia Today would be just fine without DStv.

Even so, a spirited MultiChoice defence of free speech would be more convincing.

It could be something else. Does MultiChoice perhaps enable ANN7 because of political expediency? Hey, it happens. In their prime, the Guptas were hard to say no to.

Nobody is here to point fingers. Pressure is pressure, commercial or political. MultiChoice wouldn’t be the only company that couldn’t say no. KPMG. McKinsey. SAP. They used to be largely credible companies; now I imagine their phones have stopped ringing for new-business meetings.

But MultiChoice obviously has so much more to lose. KPMG doesn’t depend on consumers and their goodwill. DStv needs its subscribers.

Of course, MultiChoice does not own itself. Naspers does. It’s a firm with huge global interests, but it got rich in SA. It owns everything from OLX to You, Huisgenoot and Drum. And, of course, the M-Net and SuperSport channels. Like ANN7, they are exclusive to DStv.

Let us not forget the unique culturescape of kykNet — like ANN7, exclusive to DStv. Are kykNet’s viewers happy to share their dwindling resources with the enabler of ANN7?

Are the viewers of M-Net not outraged? Isn’t M-Net outraged? It must be hard for a channel owned by a Gupta appeaser to summon the righteous indignation required for Carte Blanche.

Then there’s the Afrikaans market, which Naspers captured long ago. It owns all three Afrikaans daily papers. Should the loyal readers of Beeld, Die Burger and Die Volksblad pay the company that hosts Gupta TV? Should Rapport’s army of readers give up their favourite Sunday read? One could argue they should.

Let us not forget the unique culturescape of kykNet — like ANN7, exclusive to DStv. Are kykNet’s viewers happy to share their dwindling resources with the enabler of ANN7? If nobody is reminding kykNet’s viewers, shouldn’t someone?

Koos Bekker holds considerable sway in Naspers. He can’t be happy that one of his companies is enabling ANN7. I know he doesn’t like the Guptas. I know he loves SA.

It is not for me to point fingers. But now I can switch on DStv and watch ANN7 working towards the destruction of society. You know where else I can watch ANN7? Nowhere. Like Game of Thrones and House of Cards, it is only on DStv.

I am convinced MultiChoice does not want to destroy SA, but it is complicit. Surely MultiChoice would grasp the opportunity to be on the right side of history? It is entirely in the company’s power to pull the plug on ANN7. Press some buttons in Randburg and ANN7 would instantly disappear from the nation’s screens.

I watch Game of Thrones. To do that, I give my money to the people who bring you ANN7. Therefore I am complicit. I feel helpless about state capture, but there’s something all middle-class people could do, if we wanted. We could stop doing business with Naspers, even though we don’t want to.

It would be cruel and counterproductive, in these times, to ask people to give up Game of Thrones. Seen from SA, Westeros is tranquil, fair and full of hope. In another time, Cersei and Jaime’s relationship seemed scandalous. It now seems quite sweet next to the passions of the Saxonwold siblings.

There are six more episodes of Games of Thrones. It ends on Monday August 28, neatly just before month end.

You can change our country, MultiChoice. Have some meetings. Divorce the devil.

Please, unburden yourselves. And, in the meantime, let the rest of us contemplate a world after Game of Thrones; a world where we don’t need DStv.

For my own sanity, I’m drawing a line in the sand. Naspers, take the nation into your confidence before Game of Thrones ends, or count me out. It is late. Spring is coming.

• Wiggett is founder and creative director of Fairly Famous, a progressive advertising agency.

 

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