The South African Audience Research Foundation is without a chairman of the board. The SAARF recently held a dramatic Annual General Meeting after which chair Clare O’Neill withdrew from the board. Greg Garden stepped into the breach, but he too withdrew his candidacy. The moves came at the same time that broadcast members belonging to the National Association of Broadcasters – television and radio – announced their intention of resigning membership of the 39-year-old industry body.
“SAARF will deal with the appointment of a chairman at its next board meeting which will be held shortly,” CEO Dr Paul Haupt told The Media Online.
“Clare O’Neill withdrew immediately after the AGM, and Greg Garden advised the board that same evening that MASA (the Marketing Association of SA) had advised that their nomination of him was within a particular context, and since that context had significantly changed in the AGM, so it wished to reconsider who it should nominate (or support) as the most suitable Chair for SAARF in the new context,” he explained.
A letter from Garden to the board in The Media Online’s possession said events at the SAARF AGM had ”profound implications for our organisation, and I am sure that you have all, like me, been reflecting on these through the day since the AGM and our brief Board meeting following the AGM.
“I deeply appreciate and respect your vote of support in asking me to accept the chair of SAARF unopposed following the withdrawal of the other nominated candidate and incumbent chair. You experienced both my own equivocation and uncertainty in responding to that situation, and my willingness and determination to serve SAARF in the face of the challenges we face,” he wrote.
Haupt said MASA had “emphasised its unequivocal support for SAARF and on-going involvement at all levels, but that as Greg would have to resign from the MASA board in order to assume the chair of SAARF position, in the new context MASA felt that this would not be in the best interests of either organisation, as Greg will play a lead role in MASA’s rallying of the marketers to ensure that their media investment interests are protected and best served,” he said.
While SAARF is without a chairman, deputy chair Virginia Hollis and Greg Garden are assisting the CEO on board related matters until the next meeting when the chair appointment will be resolved, Haupt said.
In the meantime, he said, the board remains unchanged as board members are nominated to serve on the SAARF Board by their constituencies. Members serve the organization on a voluntary basis.
Commenting on the imminent resignation of broadcast members – who asked for more seats on the board and were refused – Haupt stressed that at this stage, the National Association of Broadcasters had “announced its intention to resign”.
“Naturally there will be follow up discussions between SAARF and the NAB to try and protect the industry’s interests in the research currencies and chart the way forward”, Haupt said.
The NAB currently contributes 39% of SAARF’s operational costs, says Haupt. He said the cost of the AMPS survey is shared amongst all media sectors.
It is no secret that SAARF – as well as other industry bodies such as Out of Home Media SA (OHMSA), the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and MASA – are under financial pressure.
Asked what plans SAARF has to overcome its financial challenges, Haupt said the SAARF board would be meeting MAMCA (the funding conduit to SAARF and the ASA) on 10 July at which its budget would be discussed.