Afro Worldview employees left in limbo as contract with MultiChoice comes to an end

Employees at controversial news channel Afro Worldview, formerly known as ANN7, have been left in limbo after they were informed on Monday that the broadcaster's contract with pay TV operator MultiChoice had come to an end and the channel would be going off air at 23:59.

An employee who asked not to be named told News24 that owner Mzwanele Manyi called the employees to a meeting earlier on Monday and informed them that the channel would be going off air at midnight.

"We were told that it was confirmed that the channel's contract with MultiChoice had come to an end and that management had not heard anything from MultiChoice regarding the outcomes of their bids," the employee said.

READ: Manyi: Afrotone Media thriving despite 'not getting much' from government

The employee said that during the meeting, they were told that the broadcaster would continue to await the outcomes of the bids for a new broadcasting contract. He added that they were informed that once the broadcaster received feedback from the pay TV operator, staff would be informed. 

MultiChoice spokesperson Kenneth Nxumalo confirmed to News24 that the channel's contract had expired but would not give any further information.

"We will provide an update about the Afro Worldview channel by end of day," Nxumalo said.

When asked for comment on the matter, Manyi told News24: "I am not talking to media at all on this."

Salaries to be paid 'as scheduled'

Another employee added that during the meeting, employees were also given the option to stay at home and not go to work from Tuesday until further notice.

"We agreed that we'd rather stay at home, because there is no point of coming to the office and doing nothing, because we will be off air," she said. 

The employee added that Manyi also informed them that their line managers would give them updates at a later stage, but salaries would be paid to them as scheduled.

"He said until further notice, there is nothing he can tell us, but salaries would be paid as scheduled". 

The channel's closure comes a few months after Afro Voice newspaper, formerly known as The New Age, was shut down.

Manyi acquired the newspaper and TV channel from the controversial Gupta family in 2017. The family had launched the newspaper in 2010 and the channel in 2013.

The renaming was an attempt to break away from the Guptas' reputation.

MultiChoice concluded its bidding process for a new broadcaster in July. More than 60 companies launched bids for the 24-hour television slot, the operator said. 

Afro Worldview has been broadcasting on DStv channel 405.