Jobs on the line for South Africa's financially distressed media industry – SANEF
CAPE TOWN – The media industry has come under severe financial distress through the Covid-19 pandemic, and South African National Editors Forum (SANEF) has commissioned research to hopefully render funding solutions, including the possibly a media industry relief fund.
This was according to Sanef executive director Kate Skinner, who said the industry had come under a great deal more financial stress, a lot quicker than what had been anticipated, ahead of the national lockdown.
If something was not done urgently, the production of quality news might reduce, more media industry jobs might be lost, and more media companies might close, she said.
Sanef had already done some research on funds, local and global, that might be able to provide media companies with financial relief, she said.
Many advertisers had stopped advertising through the lockdown, and the effective closure of the events industry also had a severe impact on media companies, which had already been under financial strain before the lockdown.
“We have been monitoring the situation. The Mail & Guardian warned it might not be able to pay April salaries, Independent Group said it would reduce salaries by 40% in the same month. Shortly after that the Association of Independent Publishers (AIP), which represents some 200 small independent community print publications across the country, put out a distress call for additional government advertising support,” said Skinner.
Then, last week, Associated Media Publishing (AMP) announced its closure – the company published Cosmopolitan, House & Leisure, Good Housekeeping and Women on Wheels.
Skinner said community media journalists and freelancers do not meet the traditional protections of paid sick leave, insurance and funds from the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), and they face a bigger risk of financial hardship that ordinary employees.
A survey by the South African Freelancers Association (SAFREA) showed that more than 50% of members had already lost more than 70% of their income.
Many freelancers had lost 100%, and because their work was often ad hoc rather than contractual, they had been turned down for government relief funding.