Media Monday Bulletin: ANC Policy Indaba; Print Transformation: charter or council?; Nando’s vs DStv

Posted: 25 June 2012 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Race, Xenophobia and Ethnicity, Democracy and Governance, Media Freedom and Performance

And here’s what we have for you in this week’s Media Monday Bulletin:

·         What to expect from media on ANC Policy Conference?

·         Print media transformation: a charter, or a council?

·         Nando’s playing chicken with DStv

Any truth behind Zuma’s accusations against the media?

“Zuma launches media attack”, read a headline by The Star newspaper on a roadside lamp post this morning (25 June 2012). This is a headline to the newspaper’s front page article titled “Zuma declares war: Media warned ahead of crucial ANC indaba”.

The story is about President Jacob Zuma lashing out at his critics and saying, according to the newspaper, that it was for the ANC to fight back with the truth and to reclaim the public space. The South African President has apparently accused the South African media of unfair reporting, the publication quotes Zuma saying:

“Successes are not reported, only sensation and controversies. What is talked about are negative things. We have to correct that.”

The paper also says “Zuma also said that there was a tendency to give space to analysts and critics”. Zuma was speaking ahead of the ANC’s policy conference that will start tomorrow in Midrand, a conference at which the role of the media and its regulation is expected to come under close scrutiny.

Is JZ right in saying that the media reports only the sensational, the controversial and the negative when it comes to the ANC, and leave out the positives and successes? Zuma also said that media gave space to analysts and critics – is there any truth in that? Is this necessarily a bad thing?

Seeing that the ANC has already launched a scathing attack on the media ahead of the policy conference (if The Star’s report is anything to go by) what sort of media reports can we expect coming form the conference? Can we expect fair and balanced coverage coming out of the conference, or only the sensational, controversial and negative as Zuma has already indicated? And how do we tell when the media is being sensational and negative instead of giving us the real debates and discussions, and decisions from the conference?

Facebook and Tweet us your thoughts on this; and even give us a checklist of things to look for to judge whether the media is being fair and balanced in their coverage of the ANC and the conference, or otherwise...

How do we solve SA’s print media transformation debate?

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) together with Parliament Portfolio Committee on Communications held a public hearing on transformation of print media on 18 June 2012. The hearing was aimed at discussing and finding solutions to address issues of transformation in the country’s print media sector.

Following the indaba, Parliament released a media statement indicating plans to develop a Media Charter as a way of transforming the country’s print media. The announcement irked media owners, Print Media SA, who rejected the transformation charter idea and vowed to resist government attempts to force the charter through. PMSA got the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) support as the party also voiced its rejection of the idea.

Contrary to government’s plan to develop a media transformation charter, PMSA and SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) made clear their intention to establish a Print Media Transformation Council.

Industry expert Professor Anton Harber slammed the lack of transformation in print media, and said that failure by media owners to drive transformation over the years was a mistake that ultimately invited government intervention. Harber also said that if PMSA wanted to reject the idea of a charter as proposed by government, they better come up with a convincing alternative. He added that

“The ANC majority on the committee appeared to have a pre-prepared response read out by the chair at the end that indicated they had arrived with a predetermined conclusion.But the PMSA let itself down. They popped up with the idea of a transformation council without giving much detail, so it looked like something they had thought up in a rush over the weekend in desperation. By failing to argue its case strongly, the PMSA is opening the door to those who would like to see more government interference in the newspaper industry, with all the risks this entails for editorial independence.”

Columnist Chris Vick also criticised media owners for leaving the issue of transformation a little too late and inviting government intervention; making their lives difficult in the process. Vick said media owners should have been smart and“offered to work with Parliament and civil society to run joint public participation processes”, and “contributed rather than commandeered”.

In your view, what would work well in ensuring that print media transforms? Between government’s Print Media Transformation Charter and PMSA’s proposed Print Media Transformation Council, what sounds like a better and workable proposal and why? What other options do we have if not the two ideas already proposed by government and PMSA? Does government’s idea of a charter sound pre-planned and concluded as Anton Harber suspected; or does PMSA’s idea of a council sound made up at the last minute?  And has the media given us enough information about the two to tell them apart?  What is the difference, anyway? 

We would like to hear your views and ideas about this pressing issue on Facebook and Twitter...

Nando’s shows guts; says “No” to broadcaster

The Nando’s diversity saga continues, but this time the tables have turned! After broadcasters were too chicken to air Nando’s “Diversity” campaign, the company is now getting back at them (one of them so far) and refusing to use them as platform for their campaign.

It first started when Nando’s launched their new “xenophobia and diversity” campaign to go with their new diverse meals. The public broadcaster, SABC, was the first off the mark to ban the campaign saying it had xenophobic undertones. Pay-channel television broadcaster DStv (& M-Net) and free-to-air channel, followed suit and banned the ad. The fast food chicken franchise then turned to print media seeing that all major broadcasters had turned their back on it. And it turned out that print media were not as chicken as their broadcaster counterparts, and published the print version of the ad.

Some viewers had actually complained about the campaign to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), and this past week ASA ruled that it found nothing against the advert. This resulted in the broadcasters unbanning the ad. DStv then offered to give Nando’s some wings again, but Nando’s turned them down. Meanwhile, Nando’s had already approached another pay TV channel, TopTV, to air the ad; and TopTV agreed.

But what can we make of Nando’s decision to reject DStv? Is it just a move to get back of them for banning their ad in the first place? Is it a lesson to broadcasters to not just jump on the bandwagon and having no backbone to challenge the status quo? Would you say that it was about time someone taught broadcasters a lesson to make their own decision as opposed to just going in the direction of the wind?

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