Sanef appeals for help following numerous retrenchments at media houses

Sanef has urged stakeholders, including government, corporates and individual citizens, to support the embattled media industry.
Sanef has urged stakeholders, including government, corporates and individual citizens, to support the embattled media industry.
  • Primedia is the latest media house to announce possible retrenchments. 
  • The South African National Editors' Forum has raised concerns about the growing number of publications announcing job cuts amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
  • The forum has appealed to stakeholders, the government and citizens to help save the industry. 

The South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) says it is concerned about ongoing retrenchments at media houses throughout the country, the latest being at Primedia. 

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On Thursday, Primedia announced that it was starting a retrenchment process in terms of Section 189 of the Labour Relations Act, Fin24 reported.

Radio stations 702, KFM and CapeTalk, as well as national news brand EWN, are part of Primedia.

The announcement came just over a week after Media24 announced the possible closure of five magazines and two newspapers, with more than 500 jobs on the cards. SABC staff are also facing possible retrenchments. 

Sanef said it had calculated that about 700 jobs had already been lost through retrenchments in the print media sector, including the closure of Associated Media Publishers, the sale of the magazine division at Caxton and the closure of at least 80 small print media publications under the Association of Independent Publishers (AIP). 

READ | Media's struggle to stay afloat hurts diversity, access to info, says AIP chair

"Sanef notes the severe hardships of journalists and media workers who have lost - and who face - the loss of their jobs, but also the problems for democracy of a shrinking media industry with shrinking newsrooms and fewer publications and media entities to cover the stories of all our citizens. We believe that South Africa needs to hear more voices - and from all provinces - if we are to ensure a robust and thriving democracy," the forum said in a statement on Sunday.

Sanef urged stakeholders - including the government, corporates and individual citizens to support the industry - and called on the government to keep its promise of looking at ways it could assist. 

In May, President Cyril Ramaphosa met with Sanef and promised that the government would find ways to assist the fourth estate.

Sanef has since announced the launch of a relief fund for journalists who lost their livelihoods as a result of the Covid-19 national disaster. 

ALSO READ | Media24 CEO confident of future of media, despite closure of publications

The initiative was also funded by corporates. MTN South Africa and First Rand committed R500 000 each. Open Society Foundation also committed R500 000.

Freelancers, contract workers or permanently employed journalists who were retrenched or had their contracts cancelled since the implementation of the lockdown are eligible to apply.

The first round of applications for the relief have since closed and a panel of media stalwarts are expected to assess and distribute the funds.

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