A report by Association of Independent Publishers + ICT Union; ICASA Council recommendations.
ARCHIVE: 31 October 2017 – Chairperson: Mr H Maxegwana (ANC)
The Association of Independent Publishers (AIP) briefed the Committee on the difficulties that community media face. It claimed that the organisation represented over 250 publications, and reached over 26 million people across South Africa. Community print media was independently owned by members of the community, whereas local media was owned by large establishments that may run the newspaper outside of the region where it was distributed. Due to this confusion, the ability for community print media to gain funding, particularly from advertising, was an immense challenge. Other challenges to securing advertising revenue included the monopolistic nature of the industry, which favoured local print and broadcast media, fraud, and in certain cases there were advertisers whose racist presumptions undermined the value of advertising in community print media in predominantly black areas.
While the Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) was the most significant Parliamentary outcome for community print media, it was not properly functional and, in addition to the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS), it did not deliver on its stated commitments to fund community print media. Furthermore, the State Owned Enterprise Communications Association (SOECA) and South African National Roads Agency (SANRAL) had failed to deliver on promised advertising for community print media. Fraud had been alleged to be an issue as to why these state entities had failed to deliver. The general picture presented was that community print media were struggling in a dying industry. A request was made to the Committee to assist in coming up with proposals for the way forward.
The Committee expressed concern and a willingness to support community print media, but requested the AIP to produce a report for clarity on the role and track record of state entities such as the GCIS and MDDA. It was especially concerned about fraud and promised for further investigations into those accused of fraud. The next Budget Review and Recommendation Report would have to emphasise the 30% of government funds promised to community print media. A Member pointed out how the lack of political will and systemic corruption made it difficult for the Committee to promise that the issues would be resolved.
The second presentation was by current and former independent contractors or freelancers of the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). The main issue was that independent contractors were in certain cases, according to their contracts, treated as full time employees in terms of what was expected of them by the SABC management. However, independent contractors were often exploited and did not have the same benefits as full time employees, such as pension funds or sick leave. The SABC management and human resources (HR) department were accused of working together to undermine independent contractors who were critical of the unfair conditions imposed on them. They were easily sacked or working hours were reduced without consultation. Fraud was especially a concern in the context of how much management were paid in comparison to the general workers.
The Committee empathised with the contentions of the independent contractors and requested that they draw up a thorough report to have evidence available in anticipation of its meeting with the Board in the following week.
Lastly, the Committee dealt with the nominations for the Council of the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA). Five names were recommended by the Committee: Ms Nomonde Gongxeka-Seope, Ms Thembeka Simane, Ms Kate Skinner, Ms Lulama Mokhobo and Mr Rubben Mohlaloga.
CREDIT: PARLIAMENTATRY MONITORING GROUP