Media statement on meeting between President Zuma and media owners
President Jacob Zuma today, 5 August 2011, held his first consultative meeting with media owners, representing both print and the broadcasting industry. The meeting took place in Pretoria.
President Zuma welcomed the interaction with this important sector of South Africa's society, remarking that their "products from newspapers, magazines, to radio stations and television channels, provided a platform and mirror to project South African life and society."
A number of issues were discussed including government's proposal to withdraw alcohol advertising. The President said government was concerned about the negative impact of alcohol abuse on society, especially on the poor, and needed to act to mitigate the problem. The industry leaders felt the advertising withdrawal might seriously impact on jobs and business. It was agreed that this matter needs to be debated further between the two parties.
There had also been some concerns regarding government's centralised advertising. Government clarified that such a decision was a cost saving measure on the part of government and not a punitive one based on the content of print media. It was explained that the bulk buying decision was made as early as 1998.
The media owners appraised the President of their own challenges in the industry including regulatory constraints which they wanted to discuss further. It was agreed that another session would be held soon, focusing on the media as a business, hosted by the Department of Communications.
The meeting appreciated a presentation by Economic Development Minister, Mr Ebrahim Patel on the New Growth Path and several ideas were put forward on how to implement and communicate the programme better, and to mobilise society to ensure success.
The meeting was introductory and set the tone for future engagements between the two parties, which would focus more on pressing issues such as media diversity and transformation, development and training as well as how media and government would work together to further strengthen Brand South Africa.
The meeting was attended by more than 30 media owners and managers, led by Print Media SA Chairperson, Prakash Desai and National Association of Broadcasters Chairperson, Karen Willenberg.
President Zuma was accompanied by the Minister of Economic Development, Ebrahim Patel, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Minister, Collins Chabane, Deputy Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Dina Pule and Deputy Communications Minister, Obed Bapela.
In a BuaNews article on 5 August 2011, it was reported that President Jacob Zuma has stressed the importance of diversity and transformation in the country's media industry, saying ownership should reflect the country's demographics.