Wednesday, December 6, 2017


Dear Readers,
Bob van Dijk
         In his column in the Sunday Times, which is part of the Tiso Blackstar (formerly Times Media) empire, Peter Bruce pointed out how Naspers' CEO Bob van Dijk had conveniently passed the buck when MultiChoice, one of Naspers' subsidiaries, came under fire for its dubious involvement with the Gupta family.
         In the latest South African Gupta scandal to surface MultiChoice, the pay TV business, was supposed to have paid the Guptas millions to become part of its DStv satellite service.
         Asked to comment Van Dijk told Moneyweb that this had nothing to do with Naspers, the giant Afrikaans media group, as it was MultiChoice’s baby.
         He told Moneyweb that as they had more than 100 firms they could not investigate every single issue that arose among them.
         “When you own more than 50% of a company you’re in charge,” Bruce told readers. “You’re responsible and you’re accountable.”
         He described Van Dijk’s “weasel explanation” as giving the impression that “ownership simple implies you get most of the profits and that’s where it ends.”
Koos Bekker is the Chairman of Naspers
         It would be nice if Bruce could draw this column of his to the attention of Andrew Bonamour, Blackstar’s CEO, because in my recent dealings with him I don’t think he is one of the Sunday Time’s keenest readers.
         A post I wrote entitled: “Exposed - the Sunday Time’s love affair with a crook”(exposed) was about how the business section of the paper (Business Times) had continued to employ Jim Jones as a freelance writer for eight years after they knew he was dishonest. By coincidence it was Moneyweb, the online financial publication, that he defrauded of the dollar equivalent of R200 000 while working for it as its Mineweb Editor.
         In compiling this I tried to get both the Editor Bongani Siqoko and Ron Derby who heads Business Times, to undertake never to use Jones again. All I got were read reports and nothing more.
         I then contacted Bonamour and after getting some very strange answers to my questions I sent him a copy of my proposed post(media chief) and he replied: “It’s bizarre that you should drag me into this when I don’t choose columnists, nor do I interfere in ST or any publication. Media accounts for 20% of our business. I had never heard of Jim Jones until you emailed me.
         “You are welcome to run whatever story you like.”
         Is this any different from the “weasel” way Van Dijk handled the MultiChoice inquiries?
         In the same edition of the Sunday Times in which one of Jones’ bylines appeared there was a letter from Dave Harris headed “Sunday Times is no holy cow” in which he warned: “The Sunday Times  always needs to take into account its own fallibility, otherwise it may be the case of people in glass houses throwing stones.”
         It would be nice if Peter Bruce remembered this.
         Jon, the Poor Man’s Press Ombudsman who reveals what the Media Club would prefer you didn’t know.

P.S. Weasel means not only the animal but a “deceitful or treacherous person.”

P.P.S. MultiChoice’s morality was again in the news when the Adverting Standards Authority ordered it to stop promoting shows as “new” when they weren’t. This was hardly necessary as every subscriber knows that new shows on DStv are almost as rare as the nearly extinct Brenton Blue Butterfly.

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