Media Monday Bulletin: Print Media Transformation; Leaks, conspiracies & Mangaung; And, SABC repeats

Posted: 18 June 2012 | News - Newsletter | Categories: Democracy and Governance, Policy Submissions, Media Freedom and Performance

And here’s what’s on the menu this Media Monday:

·         Print media transformation under the spotlight;

·         Media and the road to Mangaung; and,

·         The Cosby Show is back on SABC screens – no, we kid you not!

Public hearings on transformation of print media underway

The Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA), together with Parliament Portfolio Committee on Communications are holding a public hearing on transformation of print media today (Monday, June 18 2012). As Chris Vick has put it in his column last week, “the focus will increasingly be on who’s doing the baking, perhaps in the belief that this will influence the flavour of our news diet and make it more palatable to the powers that be.”

Media Development and Diversity Agency (MDDA) CEO Lumko Mtimde indicated that the public hearing will be the second opportunity for the industry to report back on its plans with respect to fast tracking transformation in the print media. Mtimde also said that the MDDA, together with Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS), will make a joint presentation to Parliament on this issue, and that the Competition Commission and Print Media SA (PMSA) are also due to make presentations. Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) was also one of the organisations invited to make presentations at the Indaba, and acknowledged in its presentation that there has been significant transformation since 1994 in the print media sector, also reminding those at the hearing of the changing technological landscape that needs to be kept in mind. Read the full presentation here and tell us what you think of it.

The Press Freedom Commission (PFC), initiated by the print media industry to look into self regulation of print media in SA, also had a few pressing things to say about print media ownership in its report released in April this year. The Commission indicated to an untransformed print media ownership landscape where only four companies own the largest piece of the print media cake, and recommended changes to that.

Recently we read about Mvelaphanda Group’s bid to take over Avusa (one of the so-called ‘Big Four’ companies of SA print media industry). Will that be a step in the right direction towards the transformation the print media industry needs? Will it make any difference? What do you expect to be the possible outcomes of the public hearings? Any possible agreements on media transformation expected? And what are your thoughts on the country’s print media transformation? Facebook and Tweet us your views...

SA media ahead of Mangaung: leaks and conspiracies?

The road to Mangaung has been on everyone’s mind for a while now, and almost every internal ANC political issue has been related to the party’s elective conference, to be held later this year, in the media. Exposes and leaks published for week on end have been viewed as ANC factions trying to discredit each other ahead of the elective conference.

The main question is, should we trust the authenticity of these lead stories, especially with the use of anonymous sources by media?  And what checks and balances should we apply in reading these stories? And what questions we should keep in mind while at it?

When should anonymous sources be used, and how should the media validate stories they got from anonymous sources? An online search led us to a document with draft guidelines by SA National Editors’ Forum (Sanef) on the use of anonymous sources, among other things. Read the draft guidelines here to see what Sanef’s position is on the use of anonymous sources.

Looking at what we can look for and ask ourselves when faced with leaked stories ahead of Mangaung, we should ask ourselves if actual sources are quoted in the story and who are those sources. How many sources were used, and whether the story was verified by at least three sources; whether the facts are backed up by any evidence, and backed by other media sources as well. And we should also ask ourselves who is likely to gain or lose from such a story.

What other criteria do you think we should use to tell whether the leaks ahead of Mangaung are genuine or not; any ideas? Find us on Facebook and Twitter with your tips and suggestions...

SABC ya maRepeats?

Do you foresee the possibility that we could actually watch a younger “Ridge Forrester” of the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful on our television screens again in the near future? Or what about “V-Mash” from the earliest episodes of the once-popular game show Jam Alley?

Well, at the rate that the SABC is going, we would never think that was impossible. Word on the street is that the SABC is currently screening the 20+-year old television series The Cosby Show during prime time. Which actually reminded us; a while ago we talked about MacGyver being back on SABC TV screens, and actually being a viewers’ hit. So who is next; The A-Team? Oh wait a minute, that has been re-ran already, hasn’t it?

Is this the omen of what is to come in the digital era at the SABC and other broadcasters? An era of recycled, ancient programmes brought back in front of our couches? Maybe the question is: are the broadcasters ready for digital migration? With the spectrum open for more channels, what will happen to diversity of content? This will be interesting to watch! As we speak, Media Monitoring Africa (MMA) is conducting research on content analysis for the SABC, and it will be interesting to see what the findings are. Watch this space; we’ll keep you informed...

In the meantime, Facebook and Tweet us your views on this move by the SABC to bring age-old programming back to our screens, during prime time nogal. And let’s have fun: what other programmes or series do you think are likely to be brought back seeing that the SABC looks like it is on a roll with ancient series?