Media24 gets into a hissy fit over loss of revenue

Media24 the company which destroyed several articles on South African jazz history whilst unlawfully misappropriating my own byline and corruptly rigging proceedings before the Labour Court of SA in 2010, is having a cadenza about the dominance of Google and Meta in the online advertising and search industry.

Last time I checked, Media24 did not have a search engine nor any social media of its own. Their online portal is behind a paywall (read Boere-Mafia Laager), and the loss of advertising revenue has absolutely nothing to do with Alphabet (the parent company behind Google) nor Meta and everything to do with the changing habits of its readers, many of whom have dumped the site’s partisan editorial and its “Kerk bazaar” for greener pastures.

With pay television falling prey to Internet streaming companies like Netflix, and Media24’s Multichoice spun off more than two years ago, (now the subject of a takeover by Canal+), executives at the company must be feeling the pinch, with very little left after tax — a sum of the parts analysis of the company might just provide an astonishing headline: Boetie, where are the parts?

The easy answer is Media24 is Takealot, South Africa’s number one online retailer, but with Amazon, Shein and Temu competing with the platform, executives must have had a groot skrik looking at projected revenues, seeing what is coming at them?

I suspect none of this verdriet impacts upon holding company Naspers and its ‘Jekyl & Hyde’ shenanigans at Prosus, both behemoths who collectively control billions of revenue from Tencent (and the Chinese certainly aren’t complaining about SA ownership of Wechat?) — that ancient bastion of Afrikaner kragdadigheid at the Heerengracht must be sensing they either need to throw in the towel, or buy into the new Web3 economy ?

That would be too easy, instead they have become the eternal whining aunties feasting on scalped whales harpooned by their parent company, so accurately portrayed by Daniel Defoe in his epic tail of capitalism, Moby Dick?

Anyone care to spear a whale?

The media company that refused to participate in the Truth & Reconciliation Commission, disputing the outcome and status of the special report on the role of the media during apartheid, apparently told the Competition Commission that ‘Google is abusing its “dominance” and threatening the viability of the Fourth Estate in South Africa,’ what a joke.

Since when did they ever care about the “Fourth Estate”?

Ishmet Davidson the self-same liar who claimed the company had been given ‘a clean bill of health at the TRC’, is reported to have told the Competition Commission on Tuesday that “Google is sucking advertising revenue out of South Africa, making it increasingly difficult for local publications to survive. He said even News24, despite its size, is loss-making – and he pointed the finger at Google and rival Meta Platforms, the owner of Facebook, for the dire situation facing local publishers.”

Davidson said News24 was “forced” in 2020 to implement a paywall around much of its content, but even though more than 100 000 paying subscribers have signed up, the revenue from subscriptions “has not nearly been sufficient to offset the decline in advertising revenue”.

If this sounds like the man is angling for another bail-out from government, in much the same manner as the sole pay-channel license awarded by former director PW Botha during the 1980s, they suck and you probably on track.

You can read the full story on Tech Central

Close your mind, drop your readers: IOL announce loss of 115 editorial posts

IN 2018 I wrote an opinion piece warning, that closure of debate, in particular the gutting of letters pages of titles published by IOL would lead to ruin. The job of a free press is to reflect public opinion, to guide and mediate popular discourse. As a media freedom watchdog put it: “The backbone of any democracy is an independent, professional and responsible media. Their role is to inform, criticise and stimulate debate.”

The daily press may often colour journalism with its own aims and objectives, but when it does so, willy nilly without concern for its readers, it becomes nothing less than yellow journalism. Political propaganda has no place in the broad-sheets of flag-ship titles such as the Cape Times and Cape Argus.

Over the past months we have seen the encroachment of paid agitprop from Russian and Chinese news agencies, Pravda, Sputnik & Xinhau, promoting BRICS ‘Socialism from Above’ alongside the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

To make matters worse, the long-running feud between Dr Iqbal Survé and other news outlets has resulted in a situation in which disputes inform newsroom decisions — a partisan, combative approach which leads to news editors failing to determine fact from fiction. News gathering functions are further stunted by lack of credibility stemming from a discredited Multi-baby scandal.

If management had come clean at the outset, and dealt with the problem at Pretoria News, instead of hunkering down in the basement, other titles may have been saved.

Appointing a complete ignoramus and bigot, Aziz Hartley as group Editor-in-Chief cannot have done IOL any favours, the outcome was to encourage minority parties on the fringes of SA politics to become deal-makers in Anti-Gay Pride coalitions, which resulted in these communities feeling threatened by the group, which to its credit, then belatedly published some defence of LGBT rights, but too late to rectify the damage.

While IOL may have been somewhat quicker to react in this instance, they failed miserably on other fronts.

The Cape Times continues to be stained by a sad episode involving the serialisation of the life and times of a member of the Hitler Youth, this at the very start of its new management. Under Aneez Salie, it has done very little to correct the impression that what is required to gain attention of IOL newsrooms, is membership of the Muslim Brotherhood, if not in fact, then in spirit.

It is a sad day to see titles such as Pretoria News disappear while other titles and Weekend editions are rationalised.

SEE: Closure of the Mind, Independent Media’s suppression of open debate and a free press

Sekunjalo has another Jack Ma moment

THIS WEEK saw ABSA bank withdraw its support for Sekunjalo and Iqbal Survé, citing reputational damage without providing any details. Apparently the bank doesn’t have to supply evidence in court and may boot its clients willy-nilly — on the mere off chance that they represent a risk to shareholder’s profits.

If the attempts by some media critics to paint this as another example of the end of the Gupta years, stemming from the shenanigans at Ayo, seem a little odd given Sekunjalo’s balance sheet, then perhaps it has something to do with the proverbial Iqbal Survé Jack Ma moment. If you remember, Ma fell out of grace with the Chinese Communist Party in November last year, resulting in the cancellation of the Ant Group IPO.

Similarly, Survé’s Sagarmartha IPO failed after the PIC pulled the carpet citing lack of due diligence. If you managed to catch the tail-end of the saga, and last month’s presentation given to a special parliamentary portfolio committee, then you will realise that Survé didn’t take things laying down.

He appears to have spun-off the troublesome Independent Group’s assets into a special interest vehicle, the Independent Consortium, whilst saving both Premier Fishing and Loot.com, two highly cash-generative operations, that form part of his vast empire.

It doesn’t take much digging to find the cause of Absa’s butt-headed reaction, since Survé has been waging a tit-for-tat battle with other media groups, in particular Naspers, itself a mere pawn in a broader financial empire, whose ultimate source of control is the web of intrigue surrounding the Rupert family and Rupert Beleggings.

Since the Rupert’s were instrumental in the creation of Amalgamated Banks of South Africa (Absa), after their well-documented bail-out of the apartheid state and its banking sector during the 80s, which also saw the dynasty benefit from various so-called ‘life-boats’ floated by Chris Stals et al, and are consequently the main sponsors behind the ANC, their erstwhile banking partners might not be all that happy to have Sekunjalo as a client.

Look no further than the history of Volkskas on sahistory.org.za

The move comes as President Ramaphosa was lambasted by the NEC’s Dlamini-Zuma for his apparent proximity to Johann Rupert. Hypocrisy considering the party’s longstanding relationship with its former National Party allies.

In 2018 columnist Azad Essa claimed that the Independent Group cancelled his column immediately after he published a column distributed to a number of Independent Media newspapers critical of China’s mass internment of ethnic Uighurs.

The prospect of Sekunjalo being refused a business license under the current political dispensation in which the ruling party operates as if South Africa is, for all intents and purposes, a one party state, will no doubt come to haunt Survé.

Reports have emerged that Survé initially chose the China National Bank as an alternative to Absa, only to find that keeping ones money in an authoritarian regime, is well, not exactly Swiss banking.

Bunch of Phoney’s meet to discuss Media

Brian Mulroney absolutely sloshedWITH about as much clout as a ten-year bottle of whisky, Independent News and Media’s International “Advisory Board” is meeting in Cape Town to deflect growing criticism of the group as a whole. Pitted against mounting calls for a media tribunal that will address issues of public accountability, there are still unanswered questions raised by a damaging report tabled last year which labeled, chief executive O’Reilly nothing more than a crony capitalist.

“Sir Anthony O’Reilly” has become extraordinarily adept at lording it over the masses, driving content, interfering with editorials, pushing the Irish Model and feathering his own nest in the process. The man has staged rampant mergers and acquisitions that blur the line separating media from business, sport, entertainment, advertising and public relations with the resulting loss in respect for the press as a whole. Independent hacks in their slavish obedience to higher authority, failed to note criticism of the company, one actually praised the IAB for being an O’Reilly brainchild “formed 13 years ago to provide the group’s executives with intellectual soundings on the world scene.” Okay, so a 13-year bottle of Mulroney.

Eager to dip into the Canadian and Irish Whisky fortune behind the Irish Model was Sean Johnson, the class idiot who has created a masterful symbiosis between the Mandela legacy and the Rhodes club, with the usual problems associated with alcoholism. Board-members most likely to gain from group ventures into property and the petroleum industry are Ivor Roberts, career diplomat and former British Ambassador, to Ireland.