AfriForum concerned over closure of Media24’s Afrikaans titles amid closure and sale of titles

AfriForum concerned over closure of Media24’s Afrikaans titles. Photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi

AfriForum concerned over closure of Media24’s Afrikaans titles. Photo by Simphiwe Mbokazi

Published Jun 18, 2024


About 400 Media24 employees are set to lose their jobs when the media company shuts down a number of its print publications including Beeld, Rapport, City Press, Daily Sun and Soccer Laduma, as well as the digital (PDF) editions of Volksblad and Die Burger Oos Kaap, and the digital hub SNL24.

While Rapport, City Press and Daily Sun will now be digital-only brands, the company on Tuesday confirmed the sale of On the Dot, the media logistics business, and the community newspaper portfolio to Novus Holdings, subject to regulatory approvals.

But lobby group AfriForum said it has launched a series of petitions against the impending closures in spite of reported dwindling circulation figures.

Alana Bailey, AfriForum’s head of cultural affairs, said the response to the petitions launched last week by AfriForum for the retention of Beeld and Rapport proves how strongly readers feel about the future of these newspapers.

If these closures are implemented, Bailey said, Media24 would be abandoning the Afrikaans community and the titles of publications that are part of the foundation on which this business giant has been built.

“Furthermore, it is tragic that loyal staff are facing possible layoffs in these difficult economic times,” Bailey stressed.

“Despite declining sales, print media definitely still has a place, especially in a country like South Africa where data is expensive and technology is not available to everyone.

“More than that, if these newspapers’ paper editions were to disappear, it would be a serious blow to Afrikaans.

“The Afrikaans media has a long and proud history that must be treasured and developed, rather than diminished,” said Bailey.

Media24 CEO, Ishmet Davidson, said: “Media24 has announced today that it is considering the closure of the print editions of five newspapers, while evolving three of them into digital-only brands.

“It has also accepted an offer to purchase its community newspapers portfolio and media logistics operations. The company will start consultations with staff and the transfer of the sold businesses to its new owner.”

Last week, The Star reported that some of its employees within the media company were not aware of the latest developments.

However, by Tuesday, some employees indicated that they had been told that there would be no job losses as the online platforms would still be operational.

Davidson said prevailing conditions in the sector as well as the economy have made it difficult for media companies to continue their operations.

“In South Africa, like elsewhere in the world, consumer preferences have changed. People now read more news than ever, but most prefer to do so on their phones or laptops and publishers have to comply with their preferences,” he said.

South Africa’s media landscape has been declining over the past decade, including the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic which affected industries across the board.

Davidson indicated that more than 400 jobs could be affected while 400 more jobs will be transferred to Novus Holdings.

“The consultation process is expected to be completed in the next three months.

“We anticipate that the proposed restructure could result in at least 400 job losses, with 400 more positions transferred to Novus Holdings, with the sale and some roles possibly needed beyond September, 30,” added Davidson.

The Star