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Johannesburg - Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane said on Wednesday money used for a The New Age breakfast briefing was intended for advertising.
“Regarding The New Age (TNA) business briefing held on 4 October 2012, an amount of R683 095 was spent to reach an audience of more than 2.2 million viewers on the SABC 2 Morning Live programme,” her office said in a statement.
“In addition, several other thousands were reached through the combined efforts of TNA, Morning Live and the office of the premier's social and electronic media prior to and even after the event.”
The Star reported on Wednesday that a purchase order revealed Mokonyane's office paid R683 095 for the briefing. The premier's office was also invoiced for 500 guests at R801 a head, totalling R400 890, and four front-page advertisements at R44 070 each, amounting to R176 280.
The premier's office said the province “enjoyed some decent savings” at the breakfast, since a 30-second advert on Morning Live cost R9000.
“This is appreciated even more when one considers that the GPG 1/8Gauteng provincial government 3/8 spent more than two hours on the show, having an unmediated conversation with the live studio audiences and viewers.
“This, we believe, was a massive return on investment.”
Mokonyane's office said it was exploring the use of “unique advertising packages” to reach all of its “stakeholders simultaneously and over an extended period, using minimal resources”.
“The TNA business briefings provided an ideal opportunity to achieve that goal and, given the opportunity, we would certainly go the same route again.”
It said the debate around the money the province had spent on advertisements was “glaringly lopsided” since it only focused on one publication.
“It is critical, if the debate is to be helpful beyond political posturing, that all our advertising dealings are made known. This will then show Gauteng residents whether our advertising has any bias towards any specific media, as has been alleged by some.”
The premier's office revealed it spent R23 691 840 on advertising between January and November last year.
It said it spent R8 967,166 on the Sowetan, R7 271 433 on The Star and R1 049 702 on The New Age.
With weekly newspapers, it spent R3 255 803 on City Press, R1 679 279 on the Mail & Guardian and R1 468.457 on The Sunday Times.
Democratic Alliance MPL Jack Bloom said earlier the party would probe Mokonyane's office about the TNA breakfast.
“The natural suspicion is that money is being funnelled to assist this newspaper because it is owned by the Gupta family, who are major benefactors of the ANC and (President) Jacob Zuma,” he said. - Sapa