Cape Town - South Africans and the government wanted to be informed appropriately by the media and did not want to be part of a “football of agendas”, President Jacob Zuma said on Thursday night.
Zuma, who was the keynote speaker at the launch of Independent Newspapers and Media SA, said the media should also view itself as more of a business than just a watchdog.
The launch was attended by a host of local and international dignitaries including cabinet ministers Rob Davies, Lulu Xingwana, Collins Chabane and Presidency spokesman Mac Maharaj.
Chinese dignitaries and diplomats also attended the function at the Cape Town International Convention Centre.
Independent Newspapers and Media SA executive chairman, Dr Iqbal Survé said his buying of the company would have “profound implications” for the country and the media sector.
“I guess it’s a celebration bringing Independent back home,” he said.
He said the purchase took too long, but the company was now firmly in South African hands.
Zuma said the amendments to the Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Act should also pave the way for transformation in the print media sector and the entire value chain of publishing, printing, distribution, advertising and the Audit Bureau of Circulation (ABC).
“The amendments to the Employment Equity Act should also encourage the industry to diversify the newsrooms,” said Zuma.
He said a point was once made by his deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, that one of the “myths” was how the media liked to describe itself “not as a business but only as a watchdog”.
“It is actually a business and a good business. I made this point when I met a business delegation... who were complaining about the negative media,” said Zuma.
He hoped the new leadership of Independent Newspapers “wants to do the right thing” and do business “correctly”.
“Ours is to be informed so that we can take informed decisions. It sounded like a breath of fresh air to hear the leadership today make this point,” said Zuma.
He was confident the change in ownership of the company, which had been under foreign ownership for 20 years, would result in a more “indigenous look and perspective” in the content of its products.
The country needed to reflect on what else still needed to be done as South Africans, to develop a media sector that was “truly South African and truly African”.