The National Association of Broadcasters’ decision last week to resign from the South African Audience Research Foundation (SAARF) caused a major upheaval in the media sector.
In a statement giving further details on why the industry took this route, the NAB said it was a unanimous and considered decision of all NAB members, both radio and television.
The NAB said decision stemmed from the rejection by the Saarf Annual General Meeting of a NAB proposal to have “more equitable representation for television and radio broadcast media on the Saarf Board”. It said the proposal was first discussed with the Saarf Board on 6 May 2013 and then formally tabled on 24 May 2013, some five weeks prior to the AGM.
Earlier, Saarf denied it was its board that refused the NAB proposal. CEO Paul Haupt said in a statement Saarf members asked the NAB for two weeks to “consult their constituencies and to evaluate other options before meeting again with the NAB to try and resolve the issue amicably and to get a consensus decision from all Saarf stakeholders”.
“The NAB refused and insisted that the matter be put to the vote knowing well that they could not get the 75% majority required for the approval of a special resolution to change the Saarf Memorandum of Incorporation. At no stage did the other Saarf stakeholders indicate that they were not prepared to consider the request with an open mind – in fact they stated the opposite more than once during the discussions,” he said.
The NAB says that as the current Saarf board comprises 13 members, it was satisfied that the proposal did not create an unfair bias since the Saarf Memorandum of Incorporation enshrines consensus as the basis for decision-making within the structures of Saarf.
“The NAB believed that its proposal to SAARF, to increase its current board representation of two seats to six seats, would enable it to have more effective participation on the Saarf Board. This would in turn enable progressive and innovative road-mapping for the future which would respond to the ever evolving and dynamic broadcasting sector,” executive director Nadia Bulbilia said in a statement.
“Further to this, the proposed Board representation would have ensured that it is better aligned to the level of financial investments by the NAB members. The NAB was still mindful that its proposal should not create an unfair bias with regard to representation on the board, hence it did not seek Board representation aligned to its financial contribution which sits at 78% but rather a more equitable one which would have seen it obtain 38% representation on the board,” the NAB said.
“In addition to addressing the issue of board representation, the NAB proposal was motivated by growing concern for the integrity of the RAMS and TAMS audience research and following the results of the TAMS audit, the NAB has also called for an audit of RAMS,” the statement said.
“The NAB will continue to work closely with SAARF to maintain the quality and integrity of the current audience research products and until such time as existing processes are concluded. The NAB will develop alternatives in managing the radio and television currencies from 2015 onward.”
Reacting to the news, the Digital Media and Marketing Association (DMMA) said it wanted to publically express its support for all the parties involved: Saarf, NAB, PDMSA, OHMSA, ACA, AMF and MA(SA).
“As a member of Saarf with representation on the Saarf Board, we feel sad that almost 40 years of co-operation amongst the role players within the media and marketing communities may come to an end. As a relatively small role player with no vested interests, the DMMA has opted to remain neutral and express its support for all parties involved,” it said.
“The DMMA remains the only official measurement body for digital audience data in South Africa and will continue to provide its members with insightful and reliable data concerning the consumption of digital media across the country.”
It said it looked forward to “healthy collaboration around the measurement of media in South Africa going forward”.
Bulbulia said the NAB would continue to work with Saarf until it had worked through the resignation period, culminating at the end of December 2014.
She said the NAB was anticipaing television and radio research reform that is “in line with the ever-changing audience profiles of broadcasters, and that responds to the dynamic electronic media landscape in South Africa”.