Lobby groups have called on Icasa to reject an application by the Gupta-backed Infinity Media for an individual, commercial free-to-air television broadcasting service licence. A Business Day report notes in February, Icasa issued a new invitation for Infinity Media to apply after the regulator had rejected a previous application from the company and others in 2014.

Infinity Media owns the former Gupta-owned news network ANN7, which will be dropped from the DStv bouquet in August.

Yesterday, the SOS Coalition: Support our Public Broadcaster and Media Monitoring Africa said it was important to highlight the recent scandals around Infinity Media. ‘The crisis of state capture that held the attention of this country for the last year or so has effectively centred around a single family, namely the Guptas,’ the groups said.

‘We believe that the state capture crises have represented the biggest political scandal since the founding of our democracy in 1994. For this reason alone, Infinity Media’s application must be rejected.’

The lobby groups said given that free-to-air television licences were granted infrequently (this will only be the second in SA’s history), and because they use public resources in the form of frequencies, it was very important to thoroughly scrutinise those applying for such licences.

‘Further, while the provisions regarding ownership and control of broadcasting services of the Electronics Communications Act do not apply to channels such as those broadcast by DStv, those provisions most certainly apply to Infinity Media now that it is applying for a free-to-air television licence.’

Full Business Day report (subscription needed)