Media24 downplays allegations

2013-01-24 00:00

PUBLISHING giant Media24 defended itself yesterday against allegations of uncompetitive behaviour from small black publishers in KwaZulu-Natal.

The company said it had no interest in seeing smaller and independent companies leaving the market.

Said Lutfia Vayej, head of communications at Media24 Newspapers: “To this end, Media24 continues to work closely with the AIP [Association of Independent Publishers] and Media Diversity Development Agency to promote the interests and sustainability of smaller publishers, which ultimately leads to a flourishing industry.”

She said the community newspaper market was competitive, with “Caxton Publishers leading the pack”.

At a public meeting on media transformation in Durban this week, the country’s major print firms were accused of bullying smaller players out of the market by undercutting advertising rates.

Vayej argued that the setting of advertising rates was “a complex process” that took numerous variables into account and often underwent “intense negotiations”.

“We are not in a position to dictate prices; on the contrary, the advertisers have the upper hand. The prices are therefore entirely the product of market forces over which we have very little sway.”

Criticism was also levelled at the continued support for English titles over African language newspapers that are performing far better than their traditional counterparts.

Vayej conceded that transformation in print media was still patchy, yet “Media24 achieved a level 4 recognition level on its BEE scorecard with 125% BEE spend recognition”.

“We also achieved full points for ownership. The industry as a whole is far from transformed and that is why we [the industry] initiated the [public hearings through Print and Digital Media SA] to look into the state of transformation in the industry and to prepare a report on what a transformed industry should look like.”

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