News that the Magazine Publishers Association of South Africa (MPASA) had decided dissolve and deregister the industry body was greeted with shock by many in the publishing sector.
But general manager of Media24 magazines digital and chairman of MPASA, Willem Breytenbach, says surveys and discusssions have indicated current industry structures no longer service the needs of magazine publishers.
“Current MPASA members will be able to join the PDMSA for support and industry guidance,” he says. “The PDMSA will harmonise and create efficient relationships between the magazine publishers and the Press Council, Press Ombudsman, ASA and SAARF. In light of the recent withdrawal of NAB from SAARF, organised media industry structures like PDMSA will become increasingly important.”
He says while the recent withdrawal of the National Association of Broadcasters from the South African Audience Research Foundation (SAARF) didn’t directly impact on MPASA, it created a “lot of confusion”.
“ Magazine publishers should have a say in such developments and the best way to accomplish this would be through an organised media industry structure like the PDMSA,” Breytenbach says. At present, research into magazines is done by the media houses themselves.
MPASA, in its letter to members, said it was no longer a “sustainable organisation”. Breytenbach says increased running costs, coupled with insufficient income due to dwindling membership, meant MPASA was no longer a viable organisation. “The resignation of multiple members meant that it became too difficult to provide our remaining members with the value that they deserve,” he says.“MPASA is able to balance its books but the resignations of members during the past few months will hinder next fiscal’s financial situation.”
Breytenbach said the South African magazine industry has changed in many ways over the past few years “and yet the fundamental premise has remained the same: to create and present content that is able to educate, entertain and enlighten the consumer.
“The ever-changing media landscape has come under increased pressure in recent times as we search for new and more viable business models. This does not mean that we have deviated from delivering top quality and relevant content via the written word and pictures – and indeed audio and video formats,” Breytenbach says.
He believes PDMSA will be able to support magazines but that the onus will be on the publishers to ensure there is a mandate to do so. In its letter to members, the surviving members of the MPASA board said Print and Digital Media SA would “inform every individual MPASA member about the new direct membership relationship provided, membership fees, and the establishment of a new magazine subcommittee in PDMSA which will give support to all magazine publishers as well as organising the PICA Awards”.
Breytenbach says most MPASA members have been “very optimistic and understanding as many of them look forward to creating a new, direct relationship with PDMSA”. He believes the compromising position in which MPASA had found itself is now resolved. “Publishers and others will receive focused service and support from PDMSA and will have direct interaction with regards to specific magazine issues,” he says.
“As members of the magazine industry, we need to get excited about the vast range of opportunities available to us,” he says. “We now have the ability to supply content in many different formats and on a wide range of platforms previously unavailable to us a few years ago. The magazine industry is indeed alive and well!”