SA Communist Party (SACP) leader Blade Nzimande is so worried about media pursuing an agenda aimed at destabilising the ANC that he wants the ANC’s national general council (NGC) to be firm in transforming the media.
He also vowed to lobby strongly for other ways to regulate the media.
Nzimande told City Press: “We are going to be on your case. We will campaign until we win it.”
The wheels have started rolling, he warned, saying a social movement comprising of various organisations interested in changing the media landscape will be established.
He said media group Naspers, which “represents Afrikaner capital”, would be the main target.
“It’s the worst, controlled by monopoly and supported by the MDDA [Media Development and Diversity Agency].
“The biggest threat of media freedom is monopoly. Even a lot of community initiatives in the media that are becoming successful are being gobbled up by monopolies,” he said.
He was speaking on the sidelines of The SACP’s two-day media transformation summit in Kempton Park, which ended yesterday.
Asked about the party’s position on the tribunal, which would be accountable to Parliament, Nzimande said the matter had fallen off the agenda since 2012 because no one had campaigned about it.
“We will continue to do that coming out of this. We want an independent regulation of the media. Not state regulation or self-regulation. Generally, the media in South Africa represents the interest of the elite and the overwhelming majority of our people.
“We have been very self-critical in that our engagement and criticism of media has been narrow, only focusing on what a journalist has written and what rubbish it is. We want to focus on ownership. One of the biggest setbacks in the past 21 years has been the fact that monopolisation is deepening rather than weakening.”
Nzimande said by holding the summit, the SACP has provoked a snake.
He also criticised the refusal by media bosses to allow workers to be unionised.
Key recommendations that will be canvassed at the ANC NGC include:
• Reversal of the Independent Communications Authority of SA’s (Icasa’s) policy on cross-media ownership, if necessary, by amendment to its governing statutes in a bid to enforce the break-up of the “Naspers colossus”. The SACP says this must be done much the same way as the US government forced the break-up of the telephony conglomerate Bell;
• Prohibit simultaneous ownership of satellite and terrestrial television operations – either completely, or with a cap on audience share on one or both sectors;
• Institute a more rigorous public oversight of Icasa.
At the summit, concerns were raised about the SABC’s financial woes. Summit chair, Cosatu president Sdumo Dlamini, said governance was in perpetual crisis.
A proposal was made for two SABC boards – one would focus on the commercial aspect of the business, and the other would focus on ensuring it delivers on its public service mandate.
The role played by Communications Minister Faith Muthambi was also criticised, and a highlighting a need for more administrative accountability was highlighted.
The party has previously called for her close ally, SABC chief operating officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng, to be fired.
Another proposal was that the “collusive” deal between MultiChoice and the public broadcaster be reversed with immediate effect.
*City Press is part of Media24, which is owned by Naspers