Cape Town- The acquisition of Independent News and Media South Africa (INMSA) by Sekunjalo Independent Media (SIM) will bolster transformation in the SA media landscape, Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) chief executive Lumka Mtimde said on Friday.
Briefing journalists after a two-day community media forum held in Pretoria, Mtimde said the sale of INMSA should be seen in the context of a “bigger agenda”.
“The birth of Power FM, the birth of Independent Newspapers by South African owners who are black, clearly means that there is progress in respect of the agenda of promoting media diversity,” Mtimde said.
Power FM is a new commercial radio station, which went on air this week.
It is 92 percent black owned and funded by the National Empowerment Fund.
Mtimde said the dominance of certain companies in the media industry impacted the transformation and diversity agenda of the MDDA - a statutory body reporting to the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS).
“Let's look at Sekunjalo and welcome Sekunjalo, and also welcome the other owners that have brought in new media products in South Africa owned by new South Africans that have not been part of the dominant owners of the media,” he said.
Speaking on the outcomes of the forum, Mtimde said community radio stations, television stations, and newspapers expressed concern that the market environment was not “enabling”, which hampered the sustainability of their businesses.
While much had been achieved in the 10 years the MDDA had been in existence, more needed to be done to ensure communities were getting the information they were entitled to under the Constitution, he said.
“The creation and maintenance of a vibrant and viable community and small commercial media is a necessary part of transforming South Africa’s media industry and empowering currently marginalised communities in and beyond urban centres,” acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams said.
Government spent R60 million on advertising in community and social media, considerably less than it spent on big commercial media houses.
This was despite the massive market created by small commercial and community media groups.
Around 25 percent or 8.7 million of South Africa's radio audience listened to community radio stations.
Community television stations had a combined viewership of around 10 million.
“Another constituency is the Association of Independent Publishers, which represents 230 small, community-based, grassroots publishers around South Africa who collectively produce 3.2 million newspapers annually,” Williams said.
Asked whether government would be increasing its adspend, Williams said: “Within the budget constraints of communications we are looking at further utilising this sector to make sure that all the information is actually delivered to the communities... and yes it may actually grow beyond the expenditure that we have so far incurred.” - Sapa