Government Should Advertise In Community Media: Minister

NOVEMBER 24, 2014

Community media is central to government’s new communications approach and they should take advantage of the impending partnership, says Communications Minister Faith Muthambi.

The Minister said it would make better sense for government to advertise in community newspapers as this would achieve two things – it will get government’s messages to the people on the ground and also help community media with financial sustainability through ad spend.

She said this following her interaction with owners of community TV, radio and print media at the Imbizo Centre in Parliament, on Friday.

Community media owners had expressed concerns to the Minister, saying it was becoming increasingly difficult for their respective media houses to be financially sustainable due to a lack of commercial support from the state and the private sector.

“You are at the heart of this new approach of government communications because we know that with the capacity you have, you are very close to our people and they are the ones we are trying to communicate to,” the Minister said.

Interacting with the Minister, Western Cape-based community media told of how the private sector turned down sales proposals and refused to advertise in the community media.

They also said while government supported them through broadcast license subsidies, those were not enough.

Representatives made an impassionate plea for government to take a slice out of its advertising budget and advertise in the community media.

The Minister said government should start placing adverts in community media when it comes to reaching out to the people.

Efforts would be made to engage private sector advertisers to also start advertising in community media, the Minister said.

She said some municipalities go as far as advertising jobs in national newspapers while they are looking for a candidate from a small town in Mpumalanga, for example.

“I have had a communicator say he was almost fired for taking the budget of the municipality and spending it on community media and for not putting the story of a Mayor in [a mainstream newspaper] because the Mayor wanted to see himself in a national newspaper to advertise a community meeting,” she said.

The engagement with the community media industry comes at the back of Minister Muthambi’s announcement last week that with the Broadcasting Act now proclaimed under the newly-formed Department of Communications; it gave her the authority to take over the review of the broadcasting policy framework.

Amongst several issues that the review is expected to achieve includes the transformation and empowerment of the community media, funding challenges for community media and local content development, amongst others.

The Minister said three discussion papers will be released as part of the review, and one of them will specifically deal with community broadcasting and the funding of media development and diversity in South Africa.

A representative of Cape TV said she was glad that their input over community media concerns were factored into the current discussion documents.

“To me, it gives me a way to say there should be constant communications and this leaves the office of the Premier of the Western Cape and the provincial government to take a lead and talk about these challenges,” she said.

The Minister said she would hold a follow-up meeting with members of Western Cape’s community media in the next three months. –


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