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No case study: Whither the coal face for viability of Southern African media?

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The general economic challenges for media viability in Southern African Development Community. Based on a presentation submitted at the 2018 World Media Economics and Management Conference, Cape Town.

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No case study: Whither the coal face for viability of Southern African media?

  1. 1. No case study: Whither the ‘coal face’ for viability of Southern African media? Jude Mathurine Head: Journalism/ Senior Lecturer: Media Cape Peninsula University of Technology @newmediajude World Media Economics and Media Conference 8 May 2018
  2. 2. SADC Region: Context • Region influenced by history of European mercantilism, colonialism, neo-colonialism and globalisation • Several states transitioned from military, monarchic or one-party rule to multi-party rule but vestiges of authoritarian media regulation still influences operating environment
  3. 3. • Case research on SADC tend towards low hanging fruit. Selected media companies generally have features and structures like those in developed nations. • Preference towards research on high revenue, listed commercial orientated media to the marginal focus of other media entities (non- profit, community, state) that contribute to fortunes of an integrated mediascape. • Selected cases often do not represent the ‘coal face’ of struggles of Southern African for viability.
  4. 4. • Challenges of organisations at coal face are maniple including: – Limited investment – Low circulation titles additionally hampered by struggles with distribution – Low GNI per capita to support – Urban and elite orientation for newspapers
  5. 5. • Challenges of organisations at coal face are maniple including: – Limited access to investment/finance. – Newspapers are low circulation titles additionally hampered by struggles with distribution – Limited range of advertisers – Urban and elite orientation for newspapers – Lowest literacy in sub-Sahara Africa. Only 65% of youth can read and write. – Low GNI per capita to support commercial growth
  6. 6. Comparative national GNI per capita per annum (2016) (World Bank) • USA - $56850 • Netherlands $46610 (2016) • United Kingdom $42300 • Mauritius, $9760 • Botswana, $6610 • South Africa, $5480 • Namibia, $4620 • Swaziland/eSwatini $2960 (LDC) • Lesotho, $1210 (LDC) • Zambia, $1300 (LDC) • Tanzania, $900 (LDC) • Zimbabwe, $940 (LDC) • Mozambique, $480 (LDC) • DRC, $420 (LDC) • Madagascar, $400 (LDC) • Malawi, $320 (LDC)
  7. 7. Consider • Starting pay at McDonalds in USA is USD10 per hour • The price of a newspaper in Zambia (USD1) was same cost as loaf of bread (Banda 2010)
  8. 8. – Backsliding of democratic and market reforms, assistance e.g. Malawi government reinstituted tax on newsprint which had been zero-rated since 2011; registration of journalists introduced in Angola and Tanzania. – Laissez faire regulation reduces media viability in some countries by issuing more radio licenses than market space can bare.
  9. 9. – Digital migration only in Malawi, Tanzania, Namibia and Mauritius – Declining media assistance grants and increasing focus on digital media assistance – Internet penetration low. Mobile Internet access is mainly used but 3G networks are patchy and expensive – Digital revenue is not a significant contributor to revenue. Wan/IFRA report, Financially viable media in emerging and developing economies, reported 36 per cent of the print newspapers in emerging democracies reported no Internet revenue in 2013
  10. 10. Mobile costs Comparative analysis of data price bundles 2017 (SADC). Source: Independent Communication Authority of South Africa 2017 Mobile and 3G coverage is also a limiting factor
  11. 11. Internet access as percentage of population (ITU May 2018) • United States 87% • Germany – 89% • Zambia – 41% • Zimbabwe – 40% • Tanzania – 38% • Swaziland/eSwatini – 32% • South Africa – 54% • Namibia – 31% • Mozambique – 17% • Mauritius – 63% • Malawi – 10% • Madagascar – 7% • Lesotho – 28%
  12. 12. – State media compete head-to-head with commercial media for advertising revenue – State media often cumulatively has largest audience and national footprint – Government advertising often tied to political alliance – Critical media (and advertisers supporting them) subject to ‘flak’ resulting in chilling effect – Media philanthropy and media assistance remains a consistent but unsustainable source of income for some media
  13. 13. You can’t change what you can’t measure • National research usually conducted by companies outside of the country including IPSOS, AC Nielsen, Plus 94 and Ask Africa. • National capacity for market measurement needs to be developed and adopted • PAMRO runs AMPS in less than half of Africa’s 54 countries. • Patchy and inconsistent measurement of media and markets limits prospects for intelligence driven media buying, planning and innovative and responsive programming, pricing, scheduling, content.
  14. 14. So what? • Researchers need to take a serious look at operating context for media development and sustainability of independent, mass and networked media through more representative case studies • More inclusive focus needed on all components of media ecosystem (state, public, community, commercial) as well as other elements needed for development e.g. policy, audience measurement, ethical regulation, media literacy, media education.
  15. 15. Bibliography • Cage, J. 2014. Economics of African Media. Harvard University. Downloaded from: media-cage-2014-1.pdf • Mdlongwa, F. (ed). Revenue generation for robust African media. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. Downloaded from: media-cage-2014-1.pdf • Mdlongwa, F & Lethlaku, M. 2010. Harnessing Africa’s digital future. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. • Schiffrin, A. 2017. Media Capture and the threat to democracy. CIMA. • So This is Democracy. 2016. MISA. • Dragomir, M & Thompson, M 2014. Digital Media: Making News, Breaking News. Open Society Foundation. Downloaded from: 20140828.pdf • Plessing, W. 2014. Developing Media Diversity: Baseline Study of State Support of Independent Media in West Africa, South America and Scandinavia. Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. 20140828.pdf • Wingfield, A. 2016. Africa’s 2016 factors for success. BizCommunity. Downloaded from:
  16. 16. • Moholi, F. 2016. Influence of government advertising on print media content in Lesotho. Wits University. Downloaded from: 0Report%20- %20The%20Iinfluence%20of%20Government%20Advertising%20o.pdf • De Waal, M. 2014. Inside – the Independent Media Report. Oresti Patricios ORNICO. Downloaded from: content/uploads/2014/11/The_Media_Report_2014_Independence_Issue .pdf • Gicheru, C. 2014. The challenges facing newspapers in sub-Sahara Africa. Reuters institute for the study of Journalism. Oxford University. Downloaded from: facing-independent-newspapers-in-sub • Friedrich Ebert Stiftung. 2017. African Media Barometer: Zambia. FES Media.