Minister calls for fast tracking of black media

BY CHARL BOSCH - MAY 21, 2015

Communications Minister, Faith Muthambi, has said that government’s plan of establishing a wholly black-owned media house would boost transformation as “very little has changed since 1994”.

Speaking during her department’s budget speech in Parliament yesterday, Muthambi said that a policy to fast track change in the media industry was in the process of being finalised, and that it would remain a priority for the current financial year.

“In 1994, Times Media, Naspers, Caxton and Argus were the big four media houses. Twenty-one years later the picture looks very much same, with 95% of the market share still in the hands of the big four, which must be a cause for concern for all of us.

“The question we should ask ourselves is the one that says: ‘What is it that we must do to ensure that this status does not remain the same for years to come?” she was quoted by CityPress as saying.

Muthambi’s comments comes shortly after Democratic Alliance (DA) Shadow Minister of Communications, Gavin Davis, accused her of trying to turn the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) into a state-run entity, and that her failure to meet the International Telecommunications Union deadline on June 27th for the switch to digital television, is likely to “humiliate us on a global level”.

“The Minister wilfully misunderstands her role in relation to the SABC. She believes that the SABC is a state-owned company instead of an independent public broadcaster,” Davis said.

“She wants to take us back to the apartheid era when the SABC was a tool in the hands of politicians, instead of a resource belonging to the people of this country. This is why the Minister thinks there is nothing wrong with unilaterally seizing the powers of the SABC Board, even though this is in clear contravention of the Broadcasting Act.”