We met with Iqbal Surve to demand INMSA fast-track transformation - MTMSA
Wesley Douglas |
22 December 2013
Wesley Douglas says black politicians, individuals and businesspeople constantly being demonised in white-owned media
MTMSA wants to start by recognising the work done by organisations and bodies in the media space which have led the way in terms of trying to address transformation in the media industry such as Parliaments Portfolio Committee on Communications, the Media Development and Diversity Agency, the Print and Digital Media Transformation Task Team and the Press Freedom Commission. As members of civil society, however, we feel that they have not gone far enough, fast enough and bodies such as the Press council of South Africa (PFC) remain practically unchanged in terms of how they operate. Transformation in the media has stagnated and bodies such as the MDDA have proved ineffective, mainly because they lack teeth and real power to affect change in the industry.
Suggestions by the PFC which speaks about self regulation said they "Recommends a system of independent co-regulation without government involvement, as well as the physical separation of the Press Council of South Africa from other media organisations and the use of "space fines", whereby newspapers would forfeit advertising space and revenue, and publish apologies for errors they had made". This does not adequately address transformational issues in the media or place any pressure on media houses to transform.
Whilst we applaud some of the efforts to uncover the truth about the state of transformation in the media industry by the organisations outlined above, the truth is they do not have the mandate or the ability to place pressure on the media industry as a whole to force transformation. As civil society structures we are committed to using our ability to mobilise people within communities, both as activists, lobbysists and as consumers, to fast track transformative issues and ensure that the measures suggested by some of the bodies mentioned above, are addressed as a matter of urgency.
MTMSA is pushing for a progressive agenda from all media houses, and has started this process with INMSA. MTMSA, met with Iqbal Surve, for the first time, after the protest, to hand over a letter of request to ensure transformation is fast tracked at INMSA to request a with Sandy Naude, of INMSA. This was accepted, after which MTMSA then met with Sandy Naude, Tony Howard, Iqbal Surve and the editors of the various newspapers within the INMSA group. We have handed our petition and letter of request to Sandy Naude, and will be doing so to all other media houses shortly.
The Media Houses we are starting the campaign with are the following:
1. Times Media Group
2. Caxton Media Group
3. Mail and Guardian Media Ltd
4. Media 24.
Within the letter and the campaign itself, there is a call for unbiased reporting, non racial and non negative reporting, as well as a request for disclosure and transparency on the state of transformation in relation to staffing, editorial fairness, procurement parity, BBBEE compliance levels and other aspects of transformation outlined in the press release below. We stand for complete transformation of the media, and will not hesitate to name and shame, lobby, and boycott all media houses who fail to move towards an agenda of transformation.
Research has shown that whilst some of these media houses do better than others in terms of procurement parity and enterprise development, most of them fair very badly when it comes to transformation of ownership with some of the groups scoring a 0 in terms of ownership transformation.
There has been a lot of misinformation propagated by the R2K campaign against MTMSA and we find it amusing that they have turned their attention on us as individuals rather than addressing the real issues of transformation we are raising.
Our research has shown us, that within the past few years, more than 5 black editors have been fired from the Times Media Group alone. Where was right2know when those editors were fired? Or does right2know only defend the white editors who are fired?
It is also interesting that they, along with many in the media have chosen to ignore the fact that the WCSEDF has been fighting for transformation in different industry this year and have achieved success in bring transformation in companies in the food and beverage industry, insurance industry etc. MTMSA is part of an ongoing campaign to bring about change and not a reactionary group like R2K.
We have also been receiving information from journalists from media houses stating that they are paid different salaries based on race. Due to this the MTMSA will not only continue conducting further research on all media houses, but also request that the media houses come ‘clean' with this information. We have decided that in light of the immense amount of black editors that are fired from Times Media Group, that we will be targeting them next, without hesitation, and demanding answers on why they currently have no progressive agenda.
It is critical that for South Africa to grow economically, that South Africa empowers it's people, and such negative and biased reporting from the various news publications, cannot and will no longer be tolerated by MTMSA. Times Media Group receives nearly R600 million in revenue from government advertising in their publications, tax payers money, the majority of whom are black. We as civil society want to see radical transformation and will lobby government to pull its advertising from all publications that do not want transformation on its agenda.
PLAN FOR NEXT PERIOD
With the festive season in full swing and Christmas around the corner we will be engaging media houses in the new year around 10 areas of engagement:
Racial Salary parity for journalists
What are the statistics and disparities between salary scales of similar level staff that are from different ethnic backgrounds? What are their plans regarding remedying disparities with a timeframe?
What is their current ownership structure and what is being done to ensure transformation at an ownership level, first to comply with BBEEE standards and secondly to ensure meaningful transformative ownership.
What is the percentage of direct procurement of goods and services from black business by the media houses versus white businesses? What are their plans regarding remedying disparities with a timeframe?
Employment equity plan
What does their employment equity plan look like, what is their stats per title and division, with an emphasis on performance appraisals of black staff and talent management to fast track black talent for management within the group?
Each Media house must inform us as to their BBEEE status and track record for the past 5-10 years and how they plan to address shortcomings.
The new BBEEE codes demand a high spend on enterprise development for black SMME's. What is their current and projected budget for Enterprise development and have they identified black SMME beneficiaries who will participate in their enterprise development program.
We would like to see their contributions and spend on CSI as a business and what their actual spend is when placed up against their targets and what proportion their CSI spend is of their business expenditure versus their profit margins.
Editorial balancing of reporting
Across all the titles among media houses MTMSA feels that there has been unbalanced and heavy handed reporting with a skewed political and racial perspective. The perception exists that news and editorial team have not been free and fair in their reflection of South Africa and often represents South Africa as a failed state rather than one of Africa's strongest democracies and thriving economies. As we understand that this is a subjective opinion it does reflect the mood of the people who consume media and we will be engaging media houses around this issue and the report of the Press freedom Commission.
Transformation of industry structures
We will also be engaging Media houses and government around transforming industry structures and improving the effectiveness of statutory bodies such as the Press council of South Africa and the MDDA
MTMSA are calling on progressive journalists and black journalists in particular, to use this enabling platform that is easily accessible, that we are creating to organize themselves as the bulwark against racism in the media, to launch a progressive structure, and at the same time an independent press club where people can articulate their views, where civil society, religion, and other spheres of society structures can engage in without fear or favour.
The time is right for us to transform the media, remembering that black politicians, black individuals, black businesses are still constantly being demonized and vilified in the press by white owned and controlled media houses. We also call on these journalists to resurrect the space for true transformation where as black journalists you can come together and debate the issues of transformation for yourselves.
In the New Year we will be engaging media houses on a one on one basis and will be lobbying government and industry bodies around a transformational agenda. We will also be hosting demonstrations, marches, pickets and signing petitions.
Statement issued by Wesley Douglas, Convenor MTMSA, December 20 2013
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