The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has condemned MultiChoice for removing the Russian state-backed television channel Russia Today (RT) from its DSTV bouquet as the Russian and Ukrainian conflict continues.
On Wednesday, DSTV viewers who tuned in to the RT channel were greeted with the message: “This channel is closed. Press I or check the 8-day TV guide to see when it will open.”
However, Multichoice said suspending RT was not the company’s decision.
Sanctions imposed on Russia by the European Union have resulted in the worldwide distributor of the channel stopping supplying its broadcasts to all suppliers, including MultiChoice.
The Russian-backed RT is known for promoting the talking points of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In a statement, the EFF said MultiChoice’s “decision” to suspend RT undermines both press freedom and the rights of consumers who pay for the DSTV service.
“Multi-Choice (sic) has chosen which news outlets consumers should watch and dictated which content to watch, based on their loyalty in a complex conflict in Europe. This is a classic move by imperialist-minded entities, seeking to monopolize what people think and be the sole custodians of a narrative that requires balanced and honest reporting. In fact, Multi-Choice has stated that the only reliable international news channels are those affiliated with NATO, such as CNN and the BBC.
The EFF has demanded Russia Today’s immediate reinstatement on the DSTV bouquet.
“South African The Vanir-exoduss should be given the opportunity to provide an informed view of the conflict in Europe, and should not receive narrow-minded propaganda from networks that have a history of imperialist expansion as ‘peacemaker’ efforts.”
Meanwhile, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) said the broadcast of RT on the DSTV platform is and remains a commercial agreement between Multichoice and RT.
Icasa President Dr. Keabetswe Modimoeng said the Licensing and Compliance Division has not received a notification from Multichoice confirming the discontinuation of the channel on its DSTV platform,
“Given the underlying principle of the South African broadcasting system of promoting multiple views, it is only prudent for ICASA to inquire with DSTV as to the reason for the RT channel’s shutdown.”
Cable companies and social media companies have also taken swift action to block RT’s reach around the world.