Harber: Stop claiming you’re defending RT press freedom

MOVES are afoot by state-sponsored news channel Russia Today (RT) to set up a regional hub in South Africa. Despite our pacifist constitution expressly outlawing ‘propaganda for war’ under article 16, (2) (a) — limitations on press freedom when it comes to calumny and disinformation to pursue ‘special military operations’ are simply being ignored. The result looks a lot like the apartheid government purchase of the Washington Star.

Laws implemented in Russia earlier this year, make it an offense to criticise Putin’s ‘special military operation’ and lead to protests outside the Russian embassy by a local chapter of Amnesty International. In response, Independent Group have been running paid opinion pieces produced by Russia’s Sputnik news agency. There appears to be a well-orchestrated campaign of Russian influence and news-peddling when it comes to South African media — politics redolent of the manner in which the apartheid-state sort to win hearts and minds.

Claims made of press privilege that would allow RT to broadcast from South Africa ring hollow considering the level of aggression displayed by Russian military in the Ukraine, and the channels’ support for an imperialist ‘war of conquest’ outlawed by the United Nations Charter, and our own constitution.

Advocates of press privilege when it comes to state-news channels, such as Professor Anton Harber ignore warning signs that our own media, though relatively free, remains under threat from government intervention and non-aligned media within Russia is non-existent. Several news outlets are blocked within the country. The Setevyye Svobody (Network Freedoms) Telegram channel reports that editors for Mediazona, Republic, Taig.Info, and Lentachel had all filed lawsuits against Moscow decisions to block their sites .

Harber is the former editor of the Weekly Mail, a news title which experienced a dirty tricks operation, at the behest of the Bureau for State Security (BOSS) — instead of defending press privilege in terms of our constitution, (need I state my own case?) he has become somewhat of a stooge for Putin, a situation consistent with the professor’s acquiescence with similar campaigns during apartheid.

Apartheid operative Paul Erasmus, for instance claims that he succeeded in getting Harber to publish ‘absolute lies about the late Winnie Mandela.’ Though the adjunct professor of Journalism at Wits, refuses to apologise, nor does he engage with such public submissions, he successfully defended accusations brought by a mainstream political party that he was in effect, a ‘Stratcom agent’.

Correction, a mere tool of Stratcom.

Increasingly populist discourse in favour of any self-serving cause, is given the rubber stamp by Harber and his ilk, the result is a rejection of democratic centralism i.e. constitutionalism, in favour of narrow, authoritarian geopolitical goals of despots like Russia’s Putin and China’s Xi. With the inevitable silencing of debate in favour of political expediency — do South Africans dare to deliberate on anything these days?

As I write this, the events of last July look as if they are repeating themselves in Durban’s CBD as the current Ramaphosa administration falters under Arthur Fraser and Carl Niehaus well-orchestrated counter-intelligence campaign — all flowing from the accusations made at the Zondo Commission.

UPDATE: Harber – SA will be giving Putin the space he denies others

Media24 accused of predator tactics

An  investigation has found that Media24 engaged in exclusionary pricing conduct through Goudveld Forum whereby its advertising rates were priced below cost. It further, found that this was intended to exclude competitors and to bolster Media24’s reputation as an aggressive competitor in order to reduce the likelihood of future entry into the community newspaper market. The Commission concluded that Goudveld Forum was used as a fighting brand to prevent competition with Media24’s larger and more lucrative title, Vista.
Commission refers predatory pricing case against Media 24

The Commission has today referred a case of predatory pricing against Media 24 to the Competition Tribunal for adjudication. This relates to advertising rates charged by Media24 in the community newspaper market in the Goldfields region of the Free State.
The Competition Act prohibits predatory pricing which involves pricing below average or variable costs in order to exclude competitors in a market.
This referral follows a complaint that was lodged by Berkina Twintig (Pty) Ltd trading as Gold-Net News on 30 January 2009, in which it alleged that Media 24 engaged in predatory pricing, which resulted in Gold-Net News exiting from the market in 2009.
It was alleged that the anti-competitive pricing occurred during the period from January 2004 until February 2009.
During this period Media 24 operated two community newspapers, namely Vista and Goudveld Forum in the Goldfields area.
The Commission’s investigation found that Media24 engaged in exclusionary pricing conduct through Goudveld Forum whereby its advertising rates were priced below cost. It further, found that this was intended to exclude competitors and to bolster Media24’s reputation as an aggressive competitor in order to reduce the likelihood of future entry into the community newspaper market. The Commission concluded that Goudveld Forum was used as a fighting brand to prevent competition with Media24’s larger and more lucrative title, Vista.
Evidence before the Commission reveals that Goudveld Forum budgeted for and operated at a loss over this period and was closed down in January 2010 after Gold-Net News had been driven out of the market.
The Commission has asked the Tribunal to levy an administrative penalty of 10 percent on Media 24’s turnover.


SA Press needs a complete makeover.

NEWS that the ANC government is considering the creation of a media tribunal “that will investigate the media’s self-regulatory dispensation, safeguard all citizens’ rights and promote ‘real’ media freedom and diversity,” comes as no surprise.

After years of market fundamentalism “to retain the old apartheid economic and social relations and what analysts see as a “global offensive against progressive values and ideas…where commercial interests are impacting negatively on editorial quality, constituting the real threat to media freedom, diversity and democracy.” this blog can only suggest a few improvements in the present dispensation in which crooks like O’Reilly are able to defraud their workers out of millions, and racists like Hein Brand can still bleat about family values while enforcing a racial segregation in the newsroom and continuing the Media24 policy of racial profiling.

* Laws to stop Irish Capitalists from committing fraud, promoting market illogic and brainwashing readers.

* Laws to force Afrikaner media houses to atone for the past, and reparations to victims of apartheid who are still being brainwashed by a racist media system.

* Laws to stop fat-cat columnists smoking Cuban cigars while dissing the masses in a neo-liberal newspeak that promotes top of the range German sedans, slavish adherence to the marketplace in which workers are forced to use a non-existent public transport system while accepting wages that would make dissidents locked-up in a Soviet gulag, blush.

If this sounds like regulation, then consider the following: At a public colloquium at Wits University in Johannesburg between media practitioners, various organisations, government, and ordinary citizens. ” ANC national executive committee member Saki Macozoma, former CEO of MDDA Libby Lloyd and media policy analyst Kate Skinner presented their arguments on media consolidation and diversity.

“We must accept that consolidation is a fact of life and shareholders’ expectations have nothing to do with what is happening in society,” Macozoma said. “As long as the shareholders’ money is used to create capital, we will have a problem of media diversity.”

If there was a vibrant alternative press none of this would be happening, but as is life, the big three have ground down whatever was left of the alternative and progressive left. The result, is justifiable anger that we can get into the situation in which the daily press reflects absolutely nothing of what is happening on the ground in terms of arts and culture, popular culture, entertainment, life as we, ordinary citizens know it.

Time for the big three to eat humble pie.

MEDIA APARTHEID CAMPAIGN: censorship saga continues.

THE Alternative Media Forum (Altmedia-F) is contemplating a series of protests to mark the anniversary of the controversial expunging of an article about a well-known Mocambican immigrant guitarist and the suppression of comments made by a local jazz musician, from community press in Cape Town . The protests will form part of Altmedia-F’s, Media Apartheid Campaign against racism and racist bias in the media.

The censorship of double Sama winner, Jimi Dludlu, and the suppression of Cape jazz great, Robbie Jansen from titles owned by Media24, is controversial to say the least, since it involves complaints of racial profiling, anti-Semitism and xenophobia by jazz journalist and Altmedia-F convener, David Robert Lewis.

This comes as an unfair discrimination case lodged before the Labour Court by Lewis, who wrote the article and was subsequently fired for objecting to editorial policy, racial profiling and anti-Semitism, amongst other things, is coming up for review.

‘This case is about discrimination across the board anti-Semitism, racism and even xenophobia,’ says Lewis who was gagged by Media24 last year over this precise issue and has had to fight a battle simply to have his own voice heard. Unfortunately, due to negative coverage of the case by corporate media, which included unflattering and anti-Semitic remarks made by an Independent journalist, the case has dragged-on, and looks set to go into its second year.

An earlier application to the Human Rights Commission, was simply referred to the Labour Court, without any attempt at an investigation, calling into question the seriousness of those in positions of authority in dealing with racism and discrimination, as well as the ability of the commission to cope with case-load, and the motives of the powers that be, which include those who would simply divide-and-rule in the Cape.

‘Racism and discrimination is racism and discrimination,’ says Lewis ‘ the question whether it be black, white or brown or from Africa, Europe or Asia , is beside the point. The sooner we learn to live in a non-racial world without borders, the better is will be for everybody including those of us who are still considered to be aliens, by those in positions of power, despite a 300 year presence on the sub-continent.’

Lewis, like Dludlu, has an immigrant past, and his Jewish, Russian, Afrikaner, Dutch, French, Scottish and English heritage is set to make waves at the Labour Court, as the matter is adjudicated in the face of anti-Semitic, racist and xenophobic attacks by the respondents Media24, and very little support from Independent Media.

If you would like to be a part of this campaign, please call: +27+82 425-1454