The Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Collins Chabane, says he hopes government’s book reflecting on the media landscape will ignite a constructive debate on the role and the future of the media in South Africa.
Chabane said this in absentia when the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) launched the book Media Landscape 2012: Reflections on South Africa’s Media Environment in Illovo, Sandton, South Africa on 14 November 2013.
The book, which was co-penned by a wide range of media players – from owners, editors, journalists to publishers, educators and communicators – reflects on, among others, topics such as media ownership and transformation and the role of mainstream and community based media in telling the story of a democratic South Africa.
In a speech presented by the Deputy CEO of Content Processing and Dissemination at GCIS, Harold Maloka, Chabane said as government prepared to celebrate 20 years of freedom, the country still had a long way to go to ensure that the media sector transforms in a similar way that other industries – like mining, construction or legal services – have done over the past two decades.
“Media ownership remains highly concentrated, creating enormous opportunities, economies of scale and influence for those at the pinnacle of the sector, while setting up barriers to entry for others or precipitating anti-competitive conditions.
“It is against this backdrop that Media Landscape 2012 was conceptualised as a contribution to sectoral and public discourse on the importance, transformation and future of media in South Africa – all this, with a view to sustained and equitable growth in opportunities and content for media owners, producers and consumers alike,” he said.
The launch was attended by a variety of media industry players such as current and former editors and communicators, most of whom saw the launch of the book as a step in the right direction.
Maloka also said after the successful launch of the first edition, government was in discussions with more industry players to co-author Media Landscape 2013 to reflect on the last 20 years of the media industry.
“This first edition covers topical issues, from the impact of social media, to an argument for why SA needs government-owned media, and factsheets with important insights into changing broadcasting policies and freedom of expression protocols in Africa.
“Media Landscape 2012 is an information resource for the general public and the media sector itself, which so often comments on and pokes around other sectors that it barely records its own dynamics, challenges and achievements.”
The launch of the book was welcomed by the media industry.
Joe Thloloe, the former Press Ombudsman and a director in the SA Press Council, who also wrote a chapter on SA’s media regulation regime, said shortly after the launch: “Essentially, it is designed to ignite debate, and it is out of the debate that great ideas will flourish. And hopefully in the next five to ten years, we will have a transformed media landscape,” he said.
Transformation and regulation of the media has in recent times been on the agenda, with the SA Press Council recently setting up a Press Freedom Commission – chaired by the late Chief Justice Pius Langa – to assess and make recommendations on print media regulation in the country.