Communications Minister Faith Muthambi has addressed a Democratic Alliance (DA) parliamentary question relating to government aertising spending, which is managed by the Department of Communications.
In the question by DA MP Gavin Davis, the DA alleges that government rewards “state-friendly media”.
Minister Muthambi on Monday moved to address the claims.
“On Thursday 29th January, after I released a breakdown of government aertising spending through the Department of Communications, this myth is back, copied and pasted under the by-line of Gavin Davis.
“It’s clear that Hon. Davis, MP, has a shallow understanding of aertising communication at best and is being disingenuous in his attempt to shoe-horn his obvious prejudice against the black-owned media into a false argument to further his own agenda.
“A passing knowledge of newspaper distribution footprints, reader demographics and editorial content would have prevented the obvious flaws in the honourable member’s allegations,” said Minister Muthambi.
The Minister said The New Age — a national daily newspaper owned and operated by TNA Media Ltd – was much closer to the Business Day – a national daily that covers economics, business and politics — in its editorial balance based on tonality of coverage.
“Research conducted by an internationally renowned company, Media Tenor, has produced a report analysing positive reporting on President Zuma for the period July 2014 – January 2015.
“[It] shows that 10% of The New Age articles report positively on President Zuma, with 9% of Business Day reportage carrying equally positive content on the President. Are we to deduce that Business Day is a propaganda platform or Pro President Zuma?” said Minister Muthambi.
She said to make decisions in a dynamic media environment, the Department of Communications’ in-house media buying team directs strategic government media buying using Telmar Media’s suite of world-wide leading media aertising software and services used for reach, frequency and optimisation.
Telmar’s 10 000 users across 85 countries include many of the world’s leading aertising agencies, digital and print publishers, broadcasters and aertisers.
The Minister said the in-house media buying personnel attend regular South African Audience Research Foundation (SAARF) and Telmar accredited training and are Aertising Media Association of South Africa members.
“The New Age — a newspaper with a national distribution footprint — is being incorrectly compared to metropolitan newspapers (The Herald – Nelson Mandela Bay, The Mercury – Durban, Pretoria News – Pretoria) competing in defined regional markets.
“If we followed Hon. Davis MP’s argument, government would need to aertise in a greater number of metropolitan newspapers in all provinces to match the footprint of The New Age, at a greater cost than that of aertising in The New Age.
“For the record, The New Age is distributed in all nine provinces, with six regional editions. Each daily edition of The New Age has a dedicated provincial focus page highlighting local news in addition to its coverage of national and global news,” Minister Muthambi said.
She said government uses mass communication to fulfil its mandate to communicate to the largest possible spread of South Africans.
“By his own admission, Davis concedes that government uses 248 newspapers to inform the public of its programme but omits the fact that government is the largest supporter of print media diversity through its aertising.
“It is incomprehensible that Davis continues to peddle half truths about the audience size of The New Age.
“It’s readership of 153 000 excludes the additional 621 000 viewers measured by AMPS for its TNA Briefings – a live broadcast event that combines stakeholder interaction, its print readership and social media following with national television coverage.
“I invite Honourable Davis MP to visit Tshedimosetso House – a Setswana word meaning insight, learning, information or erudition … to be tutored by the home grown talent employed in the Department of Communications media buying operation,” she said.
Source : SAnews.gov.za