Times Media hit by JSE’s rules on printing results

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For AN indication that the JSE may not have served all stakeholders well in its decision to drop the requirement that companies publish their results in the print media you need look no further than last week’s interim results from Times Media Group (TMG)

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TMG, through its BDFM joint venture with UK Financial Times publisher Pearson, is set to take a hit from the JSE’s change of rules. It, quite reasonably, opted to place a full-page advertisement in Business Day providing details of its results. An impressive amount of information was made available.

However, it was probably inevitable that some of the really interesting stuff, such as the income statement and balance sheet, was not made available in print.

Of course it was available on the JSE’s Stock Exchange News Service (Sens) and TMG’s websites but it’s just not the same is it? You have to trawl back and forth on a website and Sens’ presentation of results is not user friendly.

Those who could not be bothered doing the trawling might be interested to know that following last year’s “restructuring”, TMG’s long-term borrowings have shot up to R979 million from R257m. Also interesting is that tax dropped from R66m to R23m in the six months.

The group’s media division remains the most profitable part of the business with the entertainment division continuing its precipitous slump. Its BDFM joint venture is going through challenging times and not just because of the JSE’s rule change.

Industry speculation is that recently appointed publisher Peter Bruce will close the Financial Mail and use its personnel to beef up the Business Day print and internet product with the possibility of a weekend “Business Day”. This would make Business Day similar to the very successful Financial Times model. The weekend Business Day would benefit significantly from the decision to terminate the printing of the Financial Times in South Africa as Business Day has lifting rights.

 

Medical aids

Exactly how much the soon-to-be-launched health-care sector inquiry would affect prices in the private sector remains to be seen but medical schemes are already expecting it to curb the escalating costs that have seen many of them shrink benefits to make room for higher prices.

As the Competition Commission confirmed last week that the market inquiry provision of the Competition Amendment Act would come into effect on April 1, there was hope that it would identify and root out anti-competitive behaviour.

One medical scheme, Profmed, was advocating for the inquiry to be conducted soonest, saying costs in the industry had placed medical schemes and consumers under intense financial pressure.

Profmed principal officer Graham Anderson said an inquiry, which has been delayed for three years, should look at the ability of all medical schemes to negotiate with other players in the health-care industry, while it should also reconsider the Board of Healthcare Funders’ (BHF’s) ability to negotiate with service providers as a representative of medical schemes.

Anderson said since schemes began negotiating tariffs independently after the Competition Commission ruled in 2004 that the BHF had contravened the Competition Act by negotiating tariffs on behalf of its members, smaller schemes, ranging in size from about 6 000 to 20 000 members, did not have the power to negotiate with big private hospitals, doctors and specialists.

But critics in the mass and social media thought the inquiry had more to do with implementing National Health Insurance than addressing anti-competitive behaviour in the industry. Some advised that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi should start by putting his house in order and first clean up the public health-care sector.

Having had first-hand experience of the hospitality of Groote Schuur recently, where this reporter left without any diagnosis but a R4 500 bill on my medical aid, I understand where such views come from.

This makes me wonder if an inquiry of a different nature into the public health-care sector should also be considered.

 

SABC

Politics is a curious business, but it sometimes has positive results. Because of the intervention of Cope MP and communications spokeswoman Juliana Killian, who suggested that economist Iraj Abedian, a former special adviser to Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu, should be one of the new SABC board members, his name replaced a candidate selected by the ANC.

The National Assembly approved an interim five-member SABC board yesterday. Zandile Tshabalala will be the chairman, and Noluthando Gosa, a former board member who resigned earlier this week, becomes deputy chairman. The others are Vusi Mavuso, Ronnie Lubisi and Abedian, who were nominated by ANC whip Gregory Schneeman.

Earlier the portfolio committee, which includes Killian, adopted the five names. They will now be sent to President Jacob Zuma to be formally appointed.

Pippa Green, a former journalist, resigned from the board yesterday after six members resigned on Monday. The six were Lumko Mtimde, John Danana, Cedric Gina, Desmond Golding, Cawe Mahlati and Gosa. They followed chairman Ben Ngubane and his deputy, Thami ka Plaatjie, who resigned last week after the board complained they had irregularly overturned its decision to dismiss the chief operating officer. That left former IFP MP Suzanne Vos and Claire O’Neil on the board.

According to Sapa, Vos accused Communications Minister Dina Pule of meddling in the board’s operations. “Ministerial interference in board decision-making and the functioning of the SABC has become extremely problematic,” she said.

She also accused Ngubane, with whom she once sat on the IFP parliamentary benches, of dictatorial behaviour. “The singular, unilateral, decision making of the chairman, Ben Ngubane, has been previously brought to the attention of this committee of Parliament,” Vos told MPs.

It proves a week is not only a long time in politics, it also is a long time at the SABC.

 

Edited by Banele Ginindza. With contributions from Ann Crotty, Londiwe Buthelezi and Donwald Pressly.


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