Print and Digital Media South Africa is winding down. Core members of the industry body – Media24, Caxton, Times Media, Independent Media and the Mail & Guardian – are to form a new secretariat with “new objectives and a new name”.
Chairperson of PDMSA, Neo Momodu, said the move is “part of a broad shift in the governance and management of industry organisations representing the print sector, including the recent reorganisation of the Publishers’ Research Council (PRC) and the Press Council of South Africa (PCSA)”.
Momodu said the past year or so had seen “significant shifts in the way newspaper publishers do business and the way they disseminate and distribute content on multiple platforms”. More, she added, “there is growing recognition that the ‘print media’ industry is itself transforming into a broader set of content delivery platforms. These changes require a re-engineering of the industry associations that represent newspaper, magazine and online publishers to streamline the mandates and strategic objectives of all related industry bodies, and align them to reflect the current realities in the industry”.
Not entirely surprised
Gordon Patterson, president of the Audit Bureau of Circulations, said he was not “entirely surprised” by the development. “Over the past few years this organisation has struggled to believe in a print future. The threat of digital competition seems to have undermined the belief in a long-term future for print. Marketers who employ print, on the other hand, continue to believe in a print future beyond the current economic depressed climate,” he said.
On the proposed new organisation, Patterson said, “Sometimes with limited resources it’s easier to start again than it is to fix an ailing organisation. I’m delighted that change has happened and look forward to the new organisation growing print and reaffirming its place in the advertising process”.
Sandra Gordon, CEO of Wag the Dog Publishers (publisher of The Media Online and The Media magazine), said print media had “expressed concern” over the closure of their representative body.
“At the coalface print media sales teams are starting to see some light at the end of what has been a bruising battle for advertising,” she said. “Many of them have developed highly innovative concepts that appeal to agencies and advertisers. Their battle for market share against strong competitors in broadcast media has seen them upping their game. In fact three of the five top MOST 2015 winners came from print. Times Media, Caxton Magazines and Ndalo scored consistently high scores particularly against service delivery and innovation criteria. They have upped their game,” she said.
‘Smacks of corporate infighting’
Momodu said members conducted a “comprehensive review” including the manner in which the PRC and PCSA will operate in the future. The PDMSA board “re-evaluated the scope of work of the industry association for both financial and operational efficiency” she said, which led to the decision to shut it down.
But Gordon says while the establishment of a print joint industry research initiative is being finalised and the shifting of costs to maintain PDMSA into the JIC is welcomed, “the closure of the PDMSA smacks of corporate infighting and inability to reach consensus. This has been a feature of the print sector for over a decade,” she said.
Momodu, however, said it was important to note that the “shared commitment of the mainstream media to collaborating on certain common industry issues remains”. That’s why they remain the founding members of the new organisation, the name of which is still being registered and not yet available. Momodu said the big five would “continue to cooperate and together fund the relevant industry associations including PCSA and the PRC”.
The new body’s role is:
- To provide financial administration and accounting services to affiliate industry bodies
- To manage and co-ordinate all aspects in respect of poster agreements between the industry and local and regional municipalities and create an effective monitoring framework for self-regulation of street sales and postering functions
- To administer the press card service for all relevant media practitioners within the broader media industry
- To organise and conduct the Standard Bank Sikuvile Journalism competitions and awards ceremonies.
“There are still a number of related and interdependent matters that need to be resolved on the newly restructured and recently formed organisations which require the full consideration of the PDMSA Board before decisions on operational requirements are taken,” she said. More information on this will be made available in the New Year.”
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