SACP joins the Sekunjalo/Independent debate

The SACP has noted the on-going debate on media ownership precipitated by the announcement that Sekunjalo Consortium will buy the struggling Independent News. Of particular interest to us as the SACP is voice and role of SANEF in this debate.

The SACP holds no brief for Sekunjalo and we will continue engaging them like we have engaged and criticized commercial interests and their impact on quality journalism, but the double standards and hypocrisy of SANEF cannot go unchallenged.

The response by SANEF must be strongly condemned as it is completely outrageous, selective and with disturbing racial, if not racist, undertones. Where was SANEF when journalists were butchered and black editors were fired at Times Media by the owners? Nowhere to be found and they kept a loud silence.

E-TV/e-news is experiencing an unprecedented exodus of reporters and editors; most of them black, and SANEF is completely silent, not even a word to challenge the owners.

Where is the voice of SANEF to challenge the media empire of Naspers and its uncompetitive cross ownership of media outlets, including its anti-competitive conduct in so far as a satellite television is concerned? SANEF is conspicuous by its silence.

SANEF was quiet when the Irish owners of The Independent Group were repatriating all their profits from South Africa to shore up their battling Irish titles. The Irish owners were not putting enough money into South African titles, seriously affecting the quality of journalism.

What informs this sudden discovery of the interest of editors on ownership issues, including making a bizarre demand that the owner of Sekunjalo disclose who are the shareholders in the consortium? We thought all along editors are not involved in ownership issues and vice versa. In fact SANEF has always tried to project themselves as separate and independent from owners and ownership issues. Why the sudden interest to cross this line? This agenda must be rejected for what it is. Why not take Naspers to the Competition Commission if the likes of Nick Dawes and his NGO anti-government supporters are serious?

What SANEF is saying is part of a DA-led agenda to defend the existing ownership patterns including existing editorial structures in private commercial media, as it is largely sympathetic to the DA. The DA and other white liberal interests and reactionaries are particularly scared of approaching the next elections without the Independent group under their control. We are aware that the DA has for instance been asking government Ministers on how much advertising they are doing through the New Age, yet do not ask similar questions about Independent, News 24, Times and Caxton.

Can Nick Dawes, Peter Bruce and SANEF explain why their owners are so scared of a parliamentary led investigation into media ownership patterns and why are they aiding them through their editorials?  Our country is also owed an explanation on why the media owners are threatened by the role of the MDDA and community newspapers that they are busy gobbling up all the time? The likes of Anton Harber are questioning the ownership of Iqbal’s consortium, but they do not expose the greediness of their owners at Media 24 and Caxton.

The SACP is of the view that Sekunjalo must not be blackmailed by their competitors who want to dictate the rules of engagement. Over and above this, the SACP calls on our people to see this agenda for what it is, an ideological offensive aimed at protecting in the first instance white privileges and other elites. The agenda to prevent media transformation must be fought relentlessly and be exposed for what it is – the maintenance of apartheid patterns of ownership and editorial orientation.

 Issued by the SACP

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