Times Media Group (TMG) had boycotted public hearings on transformation in South Africa’s print and digital media, forcing these inquiries to be postponed indefinitely, it emerged late on Monday.
According to the South African Press Association (Sapa), TMG on Friday last week told the task team about their immediate pull out of the hearings.
Sapa reported on Monday that TMG, formerly Avusa Media, was the second company of the major four South African media companies to pull out of these hearings. These companies include Caxton, Naspers, TMG and Independent News & Media.
Caxton was another media company which pulled out of the hearings last month. Caxton and TMG have attributed the pull out to the on-going investigation by the Competition Commission into anti-competitive behaviour in print and digital media.
The hearings were organised by the Print and Digital Media Transformation Task Team. The Print and Digital Media SA was formerly known as Print Media SA.
These meetings would have been held on Thursday and Friday this week, according to Sapa. But the task team insisted that inquiries would continue this week on Wednesday and part of Thursday.
The hearings would involve the government, the ANC, Sector Education and Training Authorities, the SA Audience Research Foundation and advertisers.
Sapa reported that the media group Caxton announced it had pulled out in January. This was also linked to the investigation by the Competition Commission. The commission is probing suspected anti-competitive behaviour by Caxton, Naspers, Times Media, and the Independent News & Media.
The four media houses are accused of allegedly sharing markets and information. These companies were reportedly informed about the hearings in December last year.
The task team is investigating ownership, management, employment equity, skills development, and the low level of black ownership in many large media groups.
The main problem with South Africa’s print and digital media is that it is populated by only white journalists. Media owners prefer to hire only junior black journalists and not black senior reporters. Senior black journalists are either unemployed or are found in other industries.
“I think this has got to be investigated because it perpetrates all sorts of stereotypes about black people,” a Johannesburg-based analyst, who did not want to be named because of the sensitivity of the matter, told Ventures Online.
“Secondly, this allows the media and digital media to push its well-known liberal agenda, which is certainly not great for the country which recently came out of racial politics.”