Who owns the news media in SA?

Posted in: i-Blog, Reports on July 13, 2016

A new study by research house Intellidex has found substantial black ownership of South Africa’s commercial media.

The study found that four of the biggest media operators are black controlled, including eTV, Multichoice, Times Media Group and Independent Newspapers. Several smaller operators also have a substantial black shareholding including Kagiso Media, Cape Town Radio and MSG Afrika.

The study examined the ownership of South Africa’s news media, based on share registers, black empowerment certificates and interviews with the companies concerned. It also considered the titles owned by the media companies and different audience sizes. Not all companies co-operated in the study.

Intellidex undertook the study to support debate around ownership of the media in SA. Given the media’s role in supporting democracy by providing the information needed to make informed decisions, ownership should be transparent.

The full research report can be downloaded here.

Intellidex chairman Stuart Theobald says the study aimed to address misconceptions about media ownership in SA. “You often hear comments about the SA media being controlled by just a few groups. The study shows that there is quite a diverse ownership structure in SA media, and the proportion of black ownership is often underappreciated.”

However, Theobald also pointed to some limitations of the study. “Despite it being a legal requirement of companies to disclose their shareholders, some still insist on confidentiality. In addition, the funding of shareholder deals restricts the exercising of the normal rights that ownership confers. Genuine ownership requires that shareholders are able to sell their stakes and exercise their voting rights. Often that’s not the case, particularly in the case of BEE shareholders.”

Theobald added that ownership is also not the only thing that matters. “Media ownership is nothing without an audience. And the study again highlights that the overwhelming reach of the SA Broadcasting Corporation makes it the key institution for conveying information to the public. Ownership in the private sector is important to understand, but from the point of view of promoting democratic values the relatively small audience limits its impact.”

RELATED ARTICLES

PETER ATTARD MONTALTO: Sipho Pityana’s Busa letter shows despair can be useful

August 12, 2019

A kind of mass hysteria is breaking out, some of it justified. Sentiment is getting weaker because nothing is being done read more

STUART THEOBALD: Far from targeting Mkhwebane, banks are merely reacting to global pressure on money laundering

August 5, 2019

Public protector’s account is being investigated for exchange control violations and suspicious transaction from Hong Kong. read more

PETER ATTARD MONTALTO: SA tumbles in a slow-motion crash

July 29, 2019

Gains from improved collection by new management at the SA Revenue Service will be offset by emigration and lower growth than forecast. There are no gains to be had from higher taxes — they will... read more