ANC to make presentation at media task team

By Drum Digital
27 February 2013

The ANC will make a presentation on Thursday to the media transformation task team which is holding hearings on how to improve and transform the industry.

"The ANC presentation follows those of Cosatu, PAC, Azapo, R2K, Sanef, Genderlinks, media, academics as well as small independent publishers who have interacted with the task team in oral hearings since last month," the organisation said.

The Print Digital Media Transformation Task Team, headed by former City Press editor Mathatha Tsedu, was established by Print and Digital Media SA to help the media industry develop a common strategy for transformation.

The task team was set up in August to help the media industry develop a common transformation strategy.

It is examining issues such as ownership, management, employment equity, skills development, and the low level of black ownership in many large media groups.

It was established after Parliament's portfolio committee on communication criticised the print media sector and called for a transformation charter.

Print Media SA -- now called Print and Digital Media SA -- rejected the idea and said the media industry would deal with the matter in its own way.

The hearings were dealt a blow when the Times Media Group informed the task team on Friday that it had pulled out.

"Times Media Group is the second company of the major four to do so, citing an on-going investigation by the Competition Commission into anti-competitive behaviour," the task team said in a statement on Monday.

"At an emergency meeting on Monday, the task team decided to go ahead with the hearings for the stakeholders, but expressed its disquiet that two of the four major groups that tasked them to do the work have pulled out."

The task team said presentations by the rest of the media groups such as the Independent and Media24 and have been postponed indefinitely.

Caxton announced it had pulled out in January. This was also linked to the investigation by the Competition Commission.

The commission is probing suspected anti-competitive behaviour by Caxton, Naspers, Times Media, and the Independent.

They were informed in December that the commission was investigating the alleged sharing of markets and information.

The anti-competitive allegations first surfaced at a Competition Tribunal hearing in March 2012 about a proposed merger between Media24 Limited, Paarl Coldset, and the Natal Witness Printing and Publishing Company.

Only a handful of people attended the hearings in Johannesburg on Wednesday. They included members of the task team, industry role-players and a couple of journalists.

Veteran broadcaster Dumile Mateza made a presentation, and called on the print media to publish news and stories in African languages.

The big media companies, which also controlled distribution, had made it difficult for new publications to survive.

"The industry needs to explore growth of African languages. Readers are hungry for news to be told in their mother tongue," said Mateza.

"The growth of Ilanga and Isolezwe newspapers in KwaZulu-Natal is proof that there is a market for such diversity."

Organisations such as the Advertising Media Forum, which consists of media agencies and individuals through whom 95 percent of all media expenditure in South Africa is bought, also made presentations at the hearing.

The task team is scheduled to complete its work by the end of April 2013.

-by Sapa

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