Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 03:56:29 -0200
From: email@example.com (ANC Information)
To: Multiple recipients of list <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Mayibuye - October 1995
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SA needs a diversity of media ownership
By Tokyo Sexwale, Gauteng ANC chairperson
in Mayibuye, Opinion piece,
Vol. 6, no. 6
Media in South Africa should be owned by people from all sectors of the
rainbow nation, writes Gauteng ANC chairperson Tokyo Sexwale.
In some countries, governments moved quickly after wars of liberation to
take control of the mass media. But not ours: we did not set up a Mass
Media Trust to run the press and force it to toe the ANC line. Nor did we
introduce anti-trust legislation to break up the media monopolies.
That is why Gauteng newspapers is owned by Independent Newspapers, not by
the Gauteng Provincial Government. And as the name says, the company is
completely independent of government control.
As it turned out, our government has not acted against the media, despite
the battery of criticism we have faced in our first 16 months in office. We
may have exchanged harsh words with editors - but we have always honoured
the principles of freedom of expression and freedom of the press which we
wrote into the constitution, and we will defend them vigorously.
But that does not mean that we are satisfied with the current ownership and
control of the media. In fact, we believe that mass media institutions are
lagging behind other sectors in transforming themselves to suit the new
South African environment.
Many major South African companies have restructured their operations to
involved disadvantaged communities and broaden the base of the economy.
Companies which have benefitted from the skewed economic system created by
apartheid have transformed their share structures in the post-apartheid
period to give other South Africans a share in their wealth.
They have unbundled, set up new share options, involved their staff in key
issues, and have generally adopted a business posture which is in line with
the requirements of our new democracy.
In addition, they have demonstrated a sense of economic patriotism,
investing in the people of South Africa and building truly South African
business initiatives. Independent Newspapers, however, went the other way.
The old "Aunty Argus" is now as South African as Irish whiskey. And, as we
sit here, it is even getting more Irish, rather than less. Just a few days
ago we learnt that O'Reilly's share of this company is going to increase to
The fact that a foreign investor is the majority shareholder in a South
African media institution is a cause for concern. Yes, we need foreign
investment in South Africa. But not, we believe, to the extent that we have
already seen in Independent Newspapers.
The IBA Act already prevents majority foreign ownership of broadcasting
institutions, and we believe the same principle should apply with the print
media. We need limitations on the degree of foreign ownership of media
institutions. We need a truly South African media to tell the South African
story, and South African ownership and control is the best way to make sure
But there is a bigger problem with Tony O'Reilly's majority share in
Independent Newspapers. It is the fact that anyone should own 60 percent of
a powerful media institution such as this.
Our concern would be the same whether it was Tony O'Reilly or Nthato
Motlana, or Rupert Murdoch or Lawrence Mavundla. Because of the influence
of the media in shaping opinions, we must guard against the concentration
of ownership in the hands of a small group of people.
It is precisely because we need a diversity of ideas that we need a
diversity of ownership. And that principle extends both to the number of
institutions which are able to publish and broadcast, and to the ownership
structure of those individual institutions.
Deputy president Thabo Mbeki will soon be convening an independent panel to
look at this and many other aspects of the media, which will be developed
into a communication policy for South Africa. We are confident that this
panel will make no attempts to regulate what the media says, nor will it
infringe on the rights of South Africans to express themselves on issues
which concern them.
For us, the priority will be to bring about a media system which provides
for the diverse information needs of our people - particularly those who
have been deprived of information. And we hope the panel will help us to
develop media which will reflect the South African reality and which will
tell the South African story - media which is owned and run by people from
all sectors of the rainbow nation.
As a provincial government, we will be looking at the panel to provide for
maximum freedom of expression for the people of Gauteng. And we hope it
will do so by empowering the maximum number of people to publish or
broadcast without fear of being pushed out of the market or of being
swallowed up by a multi-media giant.