CAPE TOWN, March 23 – The South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) board on Thursday said it had ordered an immediate probe into claims that SABC archives were sold at a fraction of the price to the Guptas for their television channel, ANN7.
The claims come from former ANN7 editor Rajesh Sundaram in his book “Indentured: Behind the Scenes at Gupta TV”.
In the book, Sundaram claims an executive that helped to set up ANN7 for the Guptas, Laxmi Goel, had cooked up a plan to buy the archives.
“He told me how the Guptas had got a nod from the state broadcaster to buy this valuable archive. The SABC had plans to set up a 24/7 news channel of their own, but they were willing to sell their archives for a sweet deal to the Guptas,” the book claims.
“We know the people at the SABC, so we will get footage at a very low rate. You will have to make sure that all the footage of historical importance at the SABC is included in the 100-hour bulk deal we plan to do with them,” Goel is quoted as allegedly having told Sundaram.
The book details how a video librarian from Indian was sent to the SABC to digitise footage and made off with “60 hours of priceless footage”.
The SABC board said it had instructed management to conduct a forensic probe.
“The Board views this information in a very serious light and has instructed management to conduct a detailed forensic investigation into these revelations and to submit a report to the Board,” a statement said.
“This report as well as all other relevant information will also be submitted to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry on State Capture for inclusion in the Commission’s investigations.”