South Africa’s largest print media companies presented their transformation statistics to the Parliamentary Portfolio on Committee on Communications (PCC) this week, and painted a picture of an industry that is constantly transforming despite enormous pressures brought to bear by falling advertising revenues coupled with competition from other media channels.
Representatives from the ‘big four’ media companies – Media24, Avusa, Independent News and Media, and the Caxton/CTP Group – took part in the discussions, as did Rhodes journalism professor, Jane Duncan, and the Mail&Guardian.
President of Print Media South Africa (PMSA), Hoosain Karjieker, said the “dialogue was open, honest and transparent” and that transformation was a “work in progress”. He said the next step was to set targets that would be developed through a strategic workshop looking at ways to accelerate transformation.
“It is intended that the strategic interventions will be communicated to government, in a participative forum. We aim to have this done by February 2012,” he said.
Karjieker said the print media industry had “on an individual company basis, been complying with and aligning their organisations with the Department of Trade and Industry’s BEE Codes”. A study for PMSA undertaken by Transcend found the print media industry presents as a Level 5 BEE contributor to broad based BEE with a score of 62.92 points.
Caxton’s non executive chairman, Paul Jenkins, told the PCC that while it is a “matter of enlightened self-interest” that the print media engage with government over the issue of diversity, “debate also has to be informed by the state of the entire media landscape, and a focus on diversity in print media alone is unhelpful. TV, radio, and the internet are other major parts of the mix”.
Karjieker said the “ownership landscape has seen significant changes in recent years. More than 50% of the collective size of four largest print media groups in South Africa has a percentage of black ownership, ranging in size from 15% to 51.38% black ownership.
He added that while there were important issues that the industry needed to earnestly engage on, he was satisfied with the discussions and was looking forward to further interaction with the PCC as well as a closer working relationship with key stakeholders like the MDDA.
Some key statistics:
Media24: Has an empowerment entity, Welkom Yizani, through which 15 percent of shares are owned by 107 000 black South Africans. Upper management has transformed from 100% white males to 46% now, 23% white females, 16% black males and 15% black females in 2011.
Independent: There has been steady re-alignment of the newsrooms of INL’s newspapers to better reflect the changing demographics of the markets served: Just over 57.5%% of all editorial staff are black; females represent just under 50% of the company’s editorial structure (a 55.6% black representation). Of the company’s 19 titles (including the community stable), 14 are edited by black editors, of which five are female.
Caxton: The company spent R49m on training last year, of which 70 percent had been spent on skills development for black employees. It is currently certified as a level 5 contributor with a score of 62.23%. This is up from 56% in 2009 and 60% in 2010. It is recognised as a value-added vendor and has a 100% procurement recognition status.
Mail&Guardian: In terms of a study undertaken by BEE Online, M&G Media presents as a Level 5 BEE contributor to broad based BEE with a score of 62.77 points. Its Internship Programme has bee in existence for 16 years and trains average of four journalists every year, 80% black. Graduates include Mondli Makhanya, Ferial Haffajee, Phil Molefe and Wally Mbhele.
Avusa: Top management has changed and now stands at four black males, four white males, one white and one black female.
Where control of newsrooms is concerned, PMSA says editors are in charge of the content, not the owners of media houses. PMSA noted that since 1994, the number of black editors of newspapers in South Africa has risen from 7% to 65% in 2011.
It has also been noted that although extensive amounts are invested in skills development on an annual basis (around R60 million for the largest four media houses), this fell just short of the BEE Codes target of 5% of total basic payroll.
Gender diversity remains a challenge. There are no significant numbers of women in top management and on the boards of the four largest media houses. The actual percentage is low at 4,44%.