Newspapers, magazines, broadcasters and even online publications felt the pinch again this year. Several local and international media products were forced to shut their doors in an increasingly hostile media environment. TheMediaOnline reporter looked at those who struggled to survive.
Probably the most memorable media mess-up this year was the Rupert Murdoch empire coming under increasing pressure, sparked by the UK phone hacking scandal that saw the death of the News of the World tabloid.
More recently, Murdoch announced that News Corp would be split into two, with the printing part retaining the name, and the rest of the company becoming known as Fox Group. Perhaps most significantly, though, is the shutting down of the The Daily, a tablet newspaper that Murdoch launched last February.
At the time, Murdoch described the daily iPad news publication as “a bold experiment in digital publishing and an amazing vehicle for innovation” that “could not find a large enough audience … to convince us the business model was sustainable in the long-term.”
It ceased publication on 15 December.
Elsewhere in the world, the Financial Times Deutschland marked its closure after 12 years with a blacked-out front page on 7 December, which featured a header changed from “Financial Times Deutschland” to “Final Times Deutschland“.
Also in December, The New York Times announced it needed to cut costs and would offer buyouts to 30 newsroom managers and journalists.
“There is no getting around the hard news that the size of the newsroom staff must be reduced,” executive editor Jill Abramson was quoted as saying in a letter to staff.
Employees had until 24 January to decide if they accepted severance packages, after which layoffs would start if not enough voluntary packages were accepted.
In South Africa, several print products experienced the proverbial writing on the wall.
Media24 drew the curtain on health and wellness magazine Shape, launched in 2000, citing a slump in advertising and circulation. A second Media24 magazine did not see the end of 2012 either — SA Garden & SA Tuin, with its editor, starting a new gardening page, called Garden Dive, on Facebook.
More Media24 casualties included NuusNou/NewsNow, a weekly news magazine and tabloid newspaper Scoop!.
Rumours of Sports Illustrated magazine facing closure could not be confirmed. Media24 Magazines CEO John Relihan told TheMediaOnline: “It is not our policy to respond to industry rumours. Any developments that concern our titles and/or staff are discussed internally and in confidence. Decisions are made in consultation with those involved.”
Sports Illustrated tweeted on its web page in December: ” In just under 2 weeks, it’ll be 2013. So best you get a lekker calendar… 2013 Swimwear Calendar FREE with the Jan issue of SI on sale now!”
At other media houses, Independent Newspapers reportedly has to slash its budget by R20 million before its financial year-end, while BDFM publisher
Peter Bruce at Times Media Group (formerly Avusa) warned in November of retrenchments at Business Day and Financial Mail. Business Day have asked staff to apply for voluntary retrenchment packages,
Bruce was quoted as saying BDFM remained in a “very tight trading position and finds itself having to reduce expenses further”.
On the broadcasting side, South Africa’s On Digital Media – which delivers Top TV to South African subscribers – did not seem to be have a great year either. It filed a notice for the beginning of business rescue proceedings on 29 October, with business rescue practitioner Petrus Francois van den Steen being appointed by the company.
According to court documents posted on its website, a notice for an extension of the date for publication of the business rescue plan has been published.
The papers, drafted by Bowman Gilfillan, state: “On behalf of the business rescue practitioner, we hereby give you notice that the date for publication of the business rescue plan has been extended to 31 March.”
A first meeting with creditors happened on 19 November, where Van den Steen was to explain if he saw any reasonable prospect of rescuing the company.
According to minutes of the meeting posted on ODM’s website, Van den Steen said: “There is a reasonable prospect of rescuing the company if nterim funding is secured in the immediate future. If funding cannot be secured, the company will not be rescued.”
The satellite pay television broadcaster was awarded a licence in September 2007, and the license was issued in July 2008.
At the time, media sceptics said it would be difficult for a new pay television broadcaster to enter a market that had been dominated for years by M-Net and DStv.
IMAGE: Rupert Murdoch and the now defunct iPad newspaper, The Daily
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