Digital media in secrecy bill struggle

The media industry in South Africa is pushing for self-regulation, but believes over-regulation should be avoided, Times Media Group (TMG) said on Friday.

Issues such as leadership were regulated in the media industry, TMG deputy managing director Andrew Gill told the Print and Digital Media Transformation Task Team on Friday.

The task team was set up in August to help the industry develop a common transformation strategy.

It is examining issues such as ownership, management, employment equity, skills development, and the low level of black ownership in many large media groups.

Gill said regulating transformation of the media was a concern.

“To be honest, there are codes out there and things that we work very hard [on]…. So it would be to avoid the over-regulation of an industry that, frankly, is seriously mature and struggling in a lot areas,” he said.

“I think the sustainability of newspapers in South Africa is the one core thing we’ve all got to take cognisance of, and realise that there are products that may well be failing, rather than new entrants coming into this market.”

He said incumbents would be closing, or leaving the industry, due to significant changes in the media market.

TMG had about 10 million readers, but this had dropped.

“Digital [media] is a major struggle for media houses,” said Gill.

“It’s a pretty depressed economy at the moment.”

The task team was hearing submissions from key players in the South African newspaper industry, including Media 24, Independent Newspapers, Caxton Media, TMG, the Mail&Guardian and business media company BDFM.

The task team was established after Parliament’s communications portfolio committee criticised the print media sector, and called for a transformation charter.

Print Media SA, now called Print and Digital Media SA, rejected this idea and said the media industry would deal with the matter in its own way.

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Digital media in secrecy bill struggle