Muthambi hints at a state-owned media house

2015-05-21 07:55

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi. Picture: Kopano Tlape/GCIS

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The government is planning to establish a black-owned media house in a bid to bolster its media transformation agenda.

Communications Minister Faith Muthambi announced during her department’s budget vote on Wednesday afternoon that the government was investigating whether it could pool assets to support the creation of such a media house.

Muthambi made the announcement while criticising the slow pace of transformation in the print media industry. She said transformation of the media remained at the apex of her priorities for this financial year.

Muthambi said work was under way to finalise the media transformation policy.

“As part of finalising this policy we will also investigate the possibility of pooling government media assets with a view to support the creation of a black-owned media house in the country,” she announced.

“We anticipate that consultations on the contents of the policy will commence early in the second quarter of the financial year. We further invite all interested parties to participate in this process,” she added.

Muthambi said with regard to the print media, little had changed since 1994.

She said the picture in terms of print media ownership looked very much today as it did 21 years ago.

“In 1994, Times Media, Naspers, Caxton and Argus were the big four media houses. Twenty-one years later the picture looks very much same, with 95% of the market share still in the hands of the big four, which must be a cause for concern for all of us.”

“The question we should ask ourselves is the one that says: ‘What is it that we must do to ensure that this status does not remain the same for years to come?’”

Last month Muthambi hinted to Parliament’s portfolio committee on communication that she wanted to resuscitate the discussion around the ANC’s media appeals tribunal regulation.

She called on MPs to take further action on the issue of a regulatory system for the print media so that they can achieve the meaningful transformation agenda of the country.

“We need to come up with a more balanced and acceptable regime within the industry,” she said.

“That brings [me] to the issue of a regulatory system for the print media that we need to take further action so that to achieve the meaningful transformation agenda of our country. This will include the resuscitation of the parliamentary inquiry in which the minister will participate.

“We need to come up with a more balanced and acceptable regime within the industry,” she said to the committee in April.

Her office later explained that Muthambi was voicing a vision discussion point that would still go through the process of debate and engagement by all industry stakeholders.

“The shape and form of the transformation in the industry is what all players have talked about with limited urgency, thus the minister wants this matter to receive a priority,” it said.

Muthambi said her department’s mission was to “create an enabling environment for the provision of inclusive communication services to all South Africans in a manner that promotes socioeconomic development and investment through broadcasting, new media, print media and other new technology, and brand the country locally and internationally”.

Read more on:    faith muthambi  |  media  |  transformation

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