Media24 has objected to being ‘tarred with the same brush’ as other big media houses when it comes to transformation and the recommendations of the Print and Digital Media Transformation Task Team (PDMTTT).
This followed a scathing opinion piece by Chris Vick, Time to talk turkey about transformation, published on The Media Online last week. Vick said the media groups had “quietly backed off from enforcing the recommendations of its own transformation task team, which submitted a report more than a year ago”. He said the lack of progress in media transformation could cause the governing party revisit the idea of a Media Appeals Tribunal.
“A year and half down the line, we now have to ask whether the newspaper industry has done enough to satisfy the ruling party, which cares deeply about the influence newspapers have on public sentiment,” he wrote. He said the ANC saw the print media as “a contested terrain that reflects the ideological battles and power relations based on race, class and gender in our society”, as per a resolution taken at the party’s elective conference in Manguang.
But Media24 said the piece was “ill informed and mischievous”.
“Media24, certainly, is totally committed to playing its role in transforming the print media industry and has launched several initiatives over the past few years to accelerate transformation and promote black economic empowerment,” said chief executive Esmaré Weideman in a statement responding to the story.
“Since the release of the Print and Digital Media Transformation Task Team (PDMTTT) Report in September 2013, we have consciously taken steps to address the concerns and challenges identified in the report. It would serve commentators well to take a more nuanced look at individual media companies instead of tarring us all with the same brush,” she said.
Media24, she said, had launched a two-year executive management programme for black staff and introduced the industry’s first digital training project for small independent publishers. Aside from that, the company’s broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) scheme Welkom Yizani, launched in 2006, “remains the biggest BEE share offer in the South African print media industry with more than 110 000 shareholders”.
Weideman said the company acknowledged the need to “foster a culture in Media24 that embraces transformation, enhances our commitment as a responsible corporate citizen, and increases our role in the development of the community media sector in particular”.
She said Media24’s overall BBBEE score has in the last year increased by 7.88 points to 77.98, taking the company to a level 3 status with a total procurement recognition level of 137,5% – the highest score ever achieved by Media24. Black ownership now stands at 45,22% which exceeds the PDMTTT recommendation by a wide margin. The company also scored full points on enterprise development and socio- economic development.
“We recognise that black employees remain under-represented at senior management levels and so have invested in developing a skills pool of future black managers and executives in Media24,” said Weideman. The company spent R38 million on training in the last financial year, with70% of this spend was allocated to the training of black employees.
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