Jimmy Manyi and Scott Lovaas (Manufacturing Consent in democratic South Africa: Application of the propaganda model) on Media Mafia's Corporate Cultural Fascism
22 June 2011
Gov. Communications CEO Jimmy Manyi was interviewed by Radio 702's John Robbie, to discuss the Goverment relationship with the Media.
The response from the Media has been their usual pathetic, proverbial 13 year old adolescent theatric outrageous incapacity to hear constructive criticism and do some introspection: SANEF slams Manyi for ‘Rock Bottom’ Relationship.
It is indisputable that Goverment corruption needs to be criticised and exposed. However corporate and media corporate corruption also needs to be exposed with the same level of enthusiasm. Journalists willing to expose media corruption are few: Sandile Memela has been the only one to address the systemic corruption: The Media Mafia. David Bullard and Michelle Solomon have addressed corruption at Avusa, but not systemically: Sunday Times Report: Avusa's Dirty Linen.
In my objective opinion listening to the interview between Manyi and Robbie, Manyi wins hands down. I ain't a big fan of Mr. Manyi; but I do appreciate his willingness to express what has been covert policy (to the knowledge of media and all, who are quite happy if the policy is covert; but only complain when it is publicly stated for the ignorant masses to awaken to its reality). Even a broken clock tells the truth twice a day. It is only those who are slaves to their subconscious hatreds who cannot hear the truth spoken from someone they may consider an enemy. Honour requires you to admit when your enemy states a truth.
John Robbie's listening skills are non-existant. He does not seem at all interested in an active listening conversation with Manyi. He deliberately avoids all Manyi's totally valid allegations about media corruption, media censorship, the media's lack of diversity of wide ranges of opinions on issues (the media consistently censor conservative opinion, white and black). Manyi sounds like he arrived for a serious interview; Robbie sounds like his intentions are to make an arse out of Manyi.
John Robbie further disputes that he and Manyi don't belong to the same culture. He sarcastically insists that there are no cultural differences between them. Unbelievable!
Manufacturing Consent in democratic South Africa: Application of the propaganda model, by Scott Lovaas, details in great detail corporate effects on the news you read:
In short, corporations are bound by class and adhere to the values and principles that reinforce the current system. Unwanted elements that threaten the system are weeded out by a variety of methods: limiting the discourse, suppression, framing of issues, choice of language, distortion, use of sources and self-censorship. Parenti writes:the most important effect of the news media: they set the issue agenda for the rest of us, choosing what to emphasize and what to ignore or suppress, in effect, organizing much of our political world for us. The media may not always be able to tell us what to think, but they are strikingly successful in telling us what to think about.
Stated even more starkly, Parenti continues:News manufacturers are more than merely conduits for official and moneyed interests. They help create, embellish, and give life to the news, with an array of stereotypes, often misleading, but well-executed images, tones, evasions, nuances, suppressions and fabrications that lend confirmation to the ruling class viewpoint in a process that is not immediately recognized as being the propaganda it is.
It is self-evident that profit-driven media have their own agenda and will do whatever it takes within the confines of the laws and regulations to maximize market share and ultimately enhance the bottom line.
Corporate media ownership by its very nature and self-interest reduces the range of debate on certain issues. For example, corporate media would not advocate or encourage commercial-free media, as it would simply be a threat to their existence despite the fact that it may meet the needs of the population. The “manufacturing of a social and political world” has significant consequences for the electorate because they receive limited, partial, or inaccurate information, thus making informed decisions more difficult. In a functioning democracy, informed decisions are vital. Citizens must understand the motives, interests, and aspirations of those collecting and disseminating the information they are receiving, as will now be discussed.
Manufacturing Consent in democratic South Africa: Application of the propaganda model
by Scott Lovaas (Excerpts)
October 2008 (Revised: December 2008)
The Corporation, by Mark Achbar [01/23]: The Corporation is today's dominant institution, creating great wealth but also great harm. This 26 award-winning documentary examines the nature, evolution, impacts and future of the modern business corporation and the increasing role it plays in society and our everyday lives.
Examining the US media, Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky in their propaganda model argue that ownership is the first filter that news and information go through before they reach an audience. According to the authors, wealthy individuals and corporations own the top-tier, or ‘agenda setting,’ media. These individuals and corporations naturally have a vested interest in maintaining the current status quo by virtue of their wealth and position within society. These individuals and corporations work tacitly together with the institutional structures of government, international finance, and other businesses to ensure their position within the economy and society. Furthermore, board members, investors, and their business interests share common interlocking social, political, and economic interests with one another, such as their ideal market conditions or degree of government involvement. The end result is that agenda setting news will reflect the interests and desires of media owners and those who finance them.
In this chapter, utilising the political economy theories of the media and the principles laid out in Edward Herman and Noam Chomsky’s propaganda model, I will highlight globalisation and its effects on the US media market. I will then provide a description of print media ownership in South Africa and its interdependence with other social, political, and economic actors. The section will close with four observations on the contradictory relationship between market-driven journalism and democracy. In sum, I will demonstrate that in both the United States and South Africa, market-driven journalism’s self-serving nature and dependence on advertising decreases competition and opinion, increases sensationalism, and negatively affects journalism, media performance, and democracy.
The global media and the effects of media consolidation
The Century of the Self; by Adam Curtis (03:54:56): To many in both business and government, the triumph of the self is the ultimate expression of democracy, where power is truly moved into the hands of the people. Certainly the people may feel they are in charge, but are they really? The Century of the Self by Adam Curtis tells the untold and controversial story of the growth of the mass-consumer society. How is the all-consuming self created, by whom, and in whose interest?
Since the 1980s, economic liberalisation and ‘free trade’ have allowed corporations to further expand their size and breadth at a considerable rate through mergers, takeovers, and acquisitions. Many corporations are no longer national but international in scope, often expanding across oceans and continents. International trading protocols such as the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS), World Trade Organization (WTO), and Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) have made transnational commerce easier for corporations by deregulating, lowering trade barriers, and restricting government spending. Additionally, post-World War II international financial institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have provided loans to developing countries encouraging them to integrate into the world economy. Well-financed auxiliary players adding their voice to the debate for free trade and economic liberalism include academics, think tanks, and advocacy groups such as the Business Roundtable and Chamber of Commerce.
These economic changes have affected almost every industry around the world. Vandana Shiva from the global justice movement pointed out that under this new world of trade, “every aspect of our lives is up for sale and every aspect of human needs and every form of human activity is being redefined as a tradeable service.” These changes in the global economy have affected the media’s ownership, consumption, purpose, and quality. In the not too distant past, media ownership was often local, regional, or national in nature, but now large media corporations control large sectors of the media and exert tremendous influence. Economic changes have led fewer individuals and corporations to own the media, also referred to as an increased concentration of media ownership. This is problematic because like most for-profit industries, media ownership is not an ideological-free enterprise. Rather, it works to enhance market share and profit for shareholders. Yet the mass media does not question this model. Instead, it uses its medium of communication to articulate the needs of an integrated global corporate system to the citizenry. Put simply, the mass media itself has not only been affected by these global economic changes, but has also actively contributed to them over the last twenty-five years.
Michael Tsarion - The Hidden Persuaders Subversive Use Of Sacred Symbolism In The Media [01/03]
Media scholars, media owners, economists, journalists, editors, and consumers fiercely contest the by-products of highly concentrated media ownership. Some contend that free market ideology and neoliberalism within the media foster an increased level of self-correction, market opening, efficiency, responsiveness to consumer needs, and consumer choice. Others argue that the consolidation of media ownership negatively affects journalism, media performance, and democracy by reducing the role of the media to a commodity that individuals and/or corporations simply buy and sell.
To determine these positive or negative effects of media ownership on media performance, it is essential that real examples be studied. While the primary focus of this study is South African English daily newspapers, I will also utilise the US market for the following reasons. First, the US has a long history of both democracy and market-driven journalism. Second, scholarship on media studies from the United States is plentiful. Third, the US has the largest economy in the world and as a result often sets global economic trends in a new world order where capital is paramount. Finally, communication systems worldwide are increasingly intertwined in a network of producers, providers, and distributors, with US corporations being leaders in this field. Under the current rubric of free trade and economic liberalisation South Africa is perhaps likely to continue to move towards and mirror a US (or globalising) pattern in terms of media performance and media ownership, making a comparative examination of the United States even more pressing.
The United States, where the vast majority of the media is held in private control away from government, presents an interesting study of media ownership. In the past, media companies often owned only one or two media forms—a magazine, a newspaper, or a radio station. Additionally, there was a multitude of owners from different backgrounds. This resulted in a variety of products and a wide range of opinion on public matters. However, the emergence and expansion of corporations has eclipsed this previous diversity and plurality. The current size and power of these corporations is unparalleled. US media scholar, Ben Bagdikian writes:No imperial ruler in past history had multiple media channels that included television and satellite channels that can permeate entire societies with controlled sights and sounds. …Big media corporations] control every means by which the population learns of its society. ...media products are unique in one vital respect. They do not manufacture nuts and bolts: they manufacture a social and political world.
Concentrated media’s magnitude and scope in the public arena is extraordinary by modern standards.
Yuri Bezmenov: Soviet Subversion of the Free World Press (01:21:28)
Today, in America, there are five corporations—Disney, Bertelsmann (German), News Corporation (Rupert Murdoch), Time Warner, and Viacom—that control the overwhelming majority of the media in the US. These five corporations vie for over one trillion dollars spent each year in the US on media products and advertising.13 These media giants not only control hefty sections of the market they have also increased their horizontal integration (buying up competitors) and vertical integration (production, distribution, and sales). As a result, cross promoting and cross selling is now very common among media giants. An inspection of News Corporation will demonstrate the sheer size and the economic, social, and political reach of one of the five leading corporations in the US and worldwide. Figure 1 is a partial listing of News Corporation holdings:NEWS CORPORATION HOLDINGS
Television Fox Television Stations in the US (35): Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Birmingham, Boston, Chicago (2), Cleveland, Dallas (2), Denver, Detroit, Greensboro, Houston (2), Kansas City, Los Angeles, Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis (2), New York City (2), Ocala, Orlando (2), Philadelphia, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, St. Louis, Tampa, Washington DC (2).
Fox Broadcasting Company; FOXTEL (25%), an Australia subscription television, over one million homes connected; Fox Sports Australia
STAR (300 million viewers in 53 countries across Asia).
Film 20th Century Fox; 20th Century Fox Español; 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment; 20th Century Fox International; 20th Century Fox Television; Blue Sky Studios; Fox Searchlight Pictures; Fox Studios Australia; Fox Studios Baja; Fox Studios LA, Fox Television Studios (Three of the five best performing motion pictures of all times—Star Wars, Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace, Titanic). Cable Fox Movie Channel; Fox News Channel; Fox Sports Digital; Fox Sports Enterprises; Fox Sports En Español; Fox Sports Net; Fuel, FX; National Geographic Channel (US and Worldwide); Speed Channel; Stats, Inc. (300 million subscribers). Newspapers In Australia: Daily Telegraph; Fiji Times; Gold Coast Bulletin; Herald Sun; Newsphotos; Newspix; Newstext; NT News; Post-Courie; Sunday Herald Sun; Sunday Mail; Sunday Tasmanian; Sunday Territorian; Sunday Times; The Advertiser; The Courier-Mail; The Mercury; The Sunday Telegraph; Weekly Times
In the UK: New International; News of the World; The Sun; The Sunday Times; The Times
In the US: New York Post (175 Newspapers total)
Magazines and Inserts InsideOut; donna hay; News America Marketing; SmartSource; The Weekly Standard; TV Guide (partial) Books Harper Collins (35 divisions); HarperCollins UK; HarperCollins Canada; HarperCollins Australia; ReganBooks, Zondervan Direct Broadcast Satellite Television BSkyB; DIRECTV; FOXTEL; Sky Italia Other Holdings News Outdoors; Nursery World; Los Angles Dodgers (sold in 2004); New York Rangers and New York Knicks (20%); Los Angles Kings (NHL, 40% option); Los Angles Lakers (NBA, 9.8% option); Staples Center (40% owned by Fox/Liberty); News America New Media; Fox Sports Radio Network; Broadsystem; Festival Records; Fox Interactive; Mushroom Records; National Rugby League; NDS; News Interactive
The holdings in Figure 1 do not stand alone; they all interact with other businesses, investors, and the public. News Corporation is ensconced in both the US and world economic markets and reports ten consecutive years of profits.
Corporations like News Corporation wield not only tremendous economic power through their vast holdings, but also political power. While such corporations are technically held to certain governmental laws and regulations, they exercise tremendous influence, which often allows them to circumvent such regulations, lobby for certain favours, or expand their market share. This was evident for instance when Rupert Murdoch was establishing Fox Television and he was granted a first time ever waiver from a US law requiring media firms to be based in the US.
News Corporation uses its enormous economic and political resources to influence the ‘public sphere’ in order to enhance its own position within the marketplace. News Corp’s power, conservative ideology, and subsequent influence over the public sphere can be seen in several areas. For example, News Corporation’s Washington DC lobbying budget for the first half of 1997 was $800,000 (ZAR 3.6 million).
Instances of media bias and propaganda can be found in Fox’s news coverage of the 2000 and 2004 US presidential elections and the Iraq War. Suppression of news and information occurred within a story about Monsanto. Another illustration is the removal of ex-Hong Kong governor Chris Patten’s memoirs in order not to offend the Chinese government. Murdoch was hoping to expand into the Chinese market and thus it was in the self-interest of his corporation to withdraw the material. Murdoch’s ability to curry political relationships can be found in all the markets where News Corporation is located. In the United Kingdom, Murdoch has a close relationship with Tony Blair. In the United States, Murdoch was able to finesse a $290-million loan from the Export-Import Bank of the United States after having lunch with President Carter in 1980, despite the fact that the bank initially rejected him.
News Corporation is not unique among corporations in its ability to influence politicians, policies, and the public sphere. The Ireland-based Independent News and Media, which will be covered below, has also used its market domination and influence to wield it power over politicians in Ireland. Additionally, Independent News and Media was able to use its influence in South Africa with the ANC when they received support from Nelson Mandela for the purchase of Argus Newspaper Ltd. in January 1994 with the promise to increase black shareholding, which never materialised.
Large corporations generally work on many fronts to ensure their survival and generate profits for shareholders. Given their political and financial ties, media corporations often have the incentive to manufacture news in a way that satisfies politicians, profits, and shareholders.South African media
South Africa has been far from immune to the global economic and media changes discussed above. Quite contrarily, the same media consolidation seen around the world has occurred in South Africa over the past fifteen years with a series of mergers, consolidations, and takeovers. With change in the air in the early 1990s, the South African corporate sector in conjunction with international financial institutions and international capital forced the incoming ANC government of South Africa to embrace neoliberal economic policies. This paved the way for even more foreign direct investment (FDI), corporate mergers, and acquisitions in all industries, including the media. In the past, South African media ownership was divided on economic and ideological lines. With the emergence and celebration of neoliberalism, media corporations rallied around global economic assimilation, even if many previous divides in the population remained. During the transformative years of media restructuring, the selling and ownership of media assets continued in the hands of the private, for-profit sector away from the public.
Just as an examination of the News Corporation revealed the depth of consolidation and influence in America, an examination of Independent News, Johnnic, and Naspers will reveal a similar pattern. The sections below will provide a partial list of financial holdings of the parent company for the Business Day, Cape Times, and the Natal Witness. These holdings range from movie theatres and bookstores to publishing houses and magazines to the internet and outdoor advertising. Like the News Corporation, these firms are very established within the current market system and will generally work to reinforce the socio-economic relationships through filtering the news and information. After establishing the breadth of these corporations’ ownership, I will go on to illustrate how consolidation of media directly leads to decreased competition and overdependence on advertising, which in turn leads to suppression of alternative opinion, increased sensationalism, and overall homogenization of the news.
Independent News and Media (Cape Times)
The Cape Times (Monday-Friday) had a circulation of 51,285 for the period covering January-June 2004, and a readership of 316,000 according to their own data. They describe the paper as:the dominate and authoritative morning daily newspaper in Cape Town, servicing the needs of upmarket reader, emphasising business news and providing in-depth coverage of current issues. 
The Cape Times is one of 15 daily and weekly newspapers produced by the Independent News and Media Limited, which makes it the largest newspaper publisher in South Africa in terms of the total number of different papers produced. Put simply, it is vital to review Independent News and Media because it is the owner of Cape Times, the pre-eminent paper in Cape Town and one of the three newspapers in this study, and because Independent News has the largest number of papers in South Africa.
The growth of Independent News and Media newspapers in South Africa resulted from Irish businessman Tony O’Reilly who saw political change in South Africa in the 1990s and sought to acquire a stake in the Argus group. The group increased to 58% in 1995 and is now fully 100% owned by the Independent News and Media. Independent News and Media and its parent company, Independent News and Media PLC, are based in Dublin, Ireland. Currently, Independent News and Media PLC have 165 newspapers worldwide and magazines titles with weekly circulation of over 13.5 million papers. They also have holdings in radio, advertising (both radio and external advertising), printing, television broadcasting, and the internet. The company’s businesses can be found in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. Financial indicators for Independent News and Media PLC for fiscal years 2002-2003 are as follows (Figure 2):
INDEPENDENT NEWS AND MEDIA FINANCIAL INDICATORS
2003 2002 Turnover (before tax and exceptionals) €1,388.2 million
(ZAR 11,686.6 million)
(ZAR13, 037.3 million)
Profit (before tax and exceptionals) € 154.6 million
(ZAR 1,321.7 million)
€ 129.0 million
In 2002, Forbes magazine named Independent News and Media’s CEO, Anthony O’Reilly, the 351st richest person in the world.
In South Africa, some of the holdings of the Independent News and Media group are (Figure 3):
INDEPENDENT NEWS AND MEDIA HOLDINGS
Newspapers Cape Argus (Cape Town); Cape Times (Cape Town); Daily News (KZN); Diamond Fields Advertiser (Kimberly); Isolezwe (Gauteng, KZN); Post (KZN); Pretoria News (Pretoria); Pretoria News Weekend (Pretoria); Saturday Star (Gauteng); Sunday Independent (National); Sunday Tribune (KZN); The Independent on Saturday (KZN); The Mercury (Durban); The Star (Gauteng); Weekend Argus (Western Cape) Magazines CondeNast; Glamour; GQ; House and Garden Other Holdings 14 Cape community newspapers (Cape Town); Clear Channel Independent (outdoor advertising) 40.3%; www.iol.co.za (internet)
In sum, Independent News and Media’s primary business interests in South Africa lie in newspapers and outdoor advertising. This is important because the Cape Times is most likely one of the papers members of the Parliament and their staff read while in Cape Town.
Johnnic Holdings (Business Day)
Business Day (Monday-Friday) has a circulation of 41,591 and a daily readership of over 120,000.27 The paper describes itself as,South Africa’s most influential and respected daily newspaper, offering incisive coverage of business, politics, labour and other current affairs, written by the country’s top journalists.
Business Day is one of 13 weekly or daily papers published by the parent company, Johnnic Communications which is part of Johnnic Holdings. In 1996, Johnnic was purchased from Johannesburg Consolidated Investments (JCI) by the National Empowerment Consortium (NEC), which was comprised of a group of black investors. The deal not only was the biggest cash deal in South African history, but it also increased black shareholders of the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) to ten percent.29 Furthermore, the deal helped diversify the media industry within the country. Johnnic Holdings’ financial reports for 2003-2004 ending 31 March are as follows (Figure 4): 
JOHNNIC FINANCIAL INDICATORS
2004 2003 Revenue Rm 2,789 Rm 12,088 Profits (after taxation) Rm 4,307 Rm 1,616 Assets Rm 4,406 Rm 7,823
Some of Johnnic Holdings’ assets can be found below in Figure 5:
Newspapers Algoa Sun (Port Elizabeth); Business Day (National); Daily Dispatch (East London); Go and Express (East London); Ilizwe (Port Elizabeth); Indabazethu (East London); Our Times (Port Elizabeth); Representative (East London); Saturday Dispatch (East London); Sunday Times (National); Sunday World (Soweto); The Herald (Port Elizabeth); Weekend Post (Port Elizabeth) Magazines Built; South African Home Owner; Computing SA; Drive; Elle; Elle Décoration; Financial Mail; Hospitality; Longevity; M/MS; Pursuit; SA Mining; Site and Road; Soccer Life; The Wedding Collection; Weil; Multiple Commercial Magazines Music
Gallo Music Publishers; Gallo Records; Gallo Distribution; Music for Pleasure; AMD (Associated Music Division)
Entertainment Nu Metro Home Entertainment; Nu Metro Theatres (234 screens); M-Net/Supersport (38.7%); Multiplex Cinema (Kenya) Internet Sites BDFM (50%); Career Junction; ICT World; MTN Network Solutions (40%); NetAssets (28.5%); PR Newswire; sundaytimes.co.za Books and Maps Booksite Afrika; Exclusive Books; Map Studios; Random House (25%); Struik; Struik Christian Books; *Caxton/CTP (36.02%) Platform Operations CDT (Compact Disc Technologies; manufactures CDs and DVDs); ELS (Entertainment Logistics Services; warehousing, distribution and logistics); Nu Metro Distribution; Rights Management Non-Core Assets Gallagher Estate; Johnnic Properties; Suncoast Casino and Entertainment World Additional subsidiaries, associates and investments: AFMED P/L (31.2%); African Business Channel (PTY) LTD (31.2%); Allied Media Distributors P/L (18.7%); Allied Publishing LTD (20.6%); Banner News Agency P/L (17.9%); Cell Place P/L (13.1%); Cellular Calls P/L (9.8%); Display Books P/L (25.0%); Durban Add-Ventures LTD; Electronic Media Network LTD (16.3%); Gallagher Estate Holdings LTD (2); I-Talk Cellular (15.4%); Leaf Wireless P/L (13.5%); Magic Company P/L (29.7%); MTN (6); National African Telecommunications (37.8%); New African Communications P/L (37.8%); New Bucks Holding LTD (17.5%); New Holland Publishers (UK) LTD; NMC Holdings P/L (47.5%); Northern Titles P/L (31.2%); Nu Metro (11); Numet Cinemas P/L; OPTI Klerksdorp P/L; OPTI Middleburg; Orbicom P/L (37.8%); Picasso Headline P/L; Pilgrims Booksellers P/L; Pro Dub Publications; Pro Rege-Pers LTD; Radio and Household Appliances P/L; Rand Daily Mail LTD; Riccia Property Managers P/L; Riverbend Learning Systems P/L (34.3%); RMP Record Co P/L; Rodland investments LTD; Route 66 Productions P/L; Schedar Investments LTD; Shosholoza Licensing P/L; Sightlines P/L; Soundprops 1065 Investments; South African Natural History Unit P/L; Southern Book Publishers P/L; Southern Directories P/L; Southmar Investments LTD; Steenberg Vineyards P/L; Ster City Johannesburg; Struik (5); Supersport International Holdings LTD (16.3%); Sweets From Heaven Holdings (2); Symmetrical Investments P/L; Teal Trutone P/L; Temco Investments P/L; The Newspaper Printing Company (21.9%); Thurco Properties 6 P/L; Times Media Cape LTD; Toomstraat investments P/L; Track Machinery Company P/L; Trade Information Services (2); Tradeworld P/L; Trans Limpopo Media LTD; Transaction Management Services (8.8%); Trutone Industries P/L; Tusk Music (4); Universitas P/L; Varied Investments LTD; Vereeniging Amalgamated Theatres P/L; Video Cassette Reproductions P/L; Video Lab Holdings LTD; Warner Home Video P/L
As illustrated above, Johnnic has a diverse economic portfolio in South Africa with newspapers being only one spoke on a larger economic wheel. In this portfolio, Business Day could be used for cross promoting and or downplaying a story about one of Johnnic’s other investments. The importance of these cross-relationships will be discussed in more detail later in this chapter.
Naspers (Natal Witness)
Natal Witness has a daily circulation (Monday-Friday) of 23,741 and reports a readership of 149,000. The Natal Witness also publishes Echo, The Mirror, Village Talk, Greytown Gazette, and UmAfrika. Additionally, it prints, manages, and distributes Ilanga (Zulu) (100,000), South Africa’s oldest black newspaper. Like other newspapers, the Natal Witness is part of a larger corporate structure. Naspers, the parent company, owns 50% of the Natal Witness while the other 50% is family-owned. Naspers is a multinational media group that has holdings around the world, including in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Mediterranean. However, over 60% of its operations are found within South Africa. Naspers is also the predominant publisher of Afrikaans language print media in Southern Africa.
Naspers is traded on both the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) and National Association of Securities Dealers Automated Quotation (NASDAQ) stock exchanges. Below are the financial figures for 2003-2004 ending 31 March (Figure 6):
NASPERS FINANCIAL INDICATORS
2004 2003 Revenue Rm 12,804
or $2029 USD (millions)
or $1546 USD (millions)
Net Profit Rm 371
or $59 USD (millions)
or $42 USD (millions)
Assets Rm 13,092
or $2,074 USD (millions)
or $1,694 USD (millions)
Some of Naspers’ holdings can be found below in Figure 7:
Newspaper Industry Newspapers: Beeld (5 Provinces-Gauteng, KZN); Die Burger (Eastern, Western Cape); City Press (Gauteng); World*; Daily Sun (Gauteng); Rapport (National); Sunday Sun (National) ; The Natal Witness (KZN); Volksblad (Free State)
Digital: Finance24; Food24; Health24; Property24; Subscribe 24; Wheels24; Women24
Distribution: NND24* (50% interest)
Printing: Paarl Media Holdings (Pty) Limited (84.2%); Paarl Gravure; Paarl Media; Paarl Print; Paarl Web
Additional: Several community newspapers; Soccer-Laduma (76%); Son (weekly)
Magazines Baba & Kleuter*; Bicycling SA; Blunt; Cosmopolitan*; dit ; Drive Out*; Drum; Eat In*; Eat Out*; Fairlady; FHM*; Finance Week; Finansies & Tegniek; Gold Digest; heat; Huisgenoot; Insig; Kick Off SA; Landbouweekblad; Men’s Health; Runners; SA Sports Illustrated; Salt Water Girl; Sarie; Seventeen; Shape*; Surfing; True Love; Tvplus; Visi*; Wegbreek; Woman’s Value; YOU; Your Baby*; Your Pregnancy; ZigZag Pay Television Multichoice South Africa; Multichoice Africa; M-Net and M-Net brands; Netmed (Mediterranean); Supersport and Supersport brands; UBC (Thailand) Internet M-Web; M-Web (Thailand); Sanook!; SportsCN (China); Tencent (China) Book Industry Publishing: Collegiums Botswana; Jonathan Ball Publishers; Lux Verbi.Bm; Nasou Via Afrika; NB Publishers; Van Schaik Publishers; Van Schaik Electronic; Via Afrika (Nasboek previously)
Retail and Distribution: Afribooks; Leisure Books; Leserskring, CD; Lux Verbi Bookstores; Music Club, Kalahari; On the Dot Distribution; Van Schaik Bookstores
Private Education Academy for Mathematics and Science; Allenby Campus; Camelot International Health and Skin Care; Career College; City Varsity: Film, Television and Multi-Media; College of Financial Services; Damelin Correspondence College; Damelin Education Group; Educor (private education in South Africa); The H.I.L.L. School for Business; Intec Colleges; Lyceum Advancement College; Midrand Graduate Institute; Milpark Business School; Self Empowerment International Other Holdings Computicket; Irdeto Access (content protection; 91 clients in 37 countries); Kalahari.net (online shopping similar to Amazon); LeisureworxGRC; Entriq (pay media) Additional subsidiaries, associates and investments of Naspers: Electronic Media Network LTD Supers (41.3%); IKSC LTD (TH) (26.3%); Internet Knowledge Service Centre Co LTD; KSC Commercial Internet Company LTD(TH) (17.1%); Media 24 LTD; Mindport P/L; Mindport IBS LTD (VG); MNH Holdings (1998) LTD; Netmed BV (NL); United Broadcasting Corp Public Co. (13.1%)
In sum, Naspers’ holdings in South Africa centre around a collection of media products: publishing, newspapers, and the internet to name a few. This background information on the three major corporations—Independent News and Interlocking capital.
The three newspapers under review, Cape Times, Business Day, and the Natal Witness, are part of a much larger network of companies with intertwining relationships. Like the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), the three corporations that own the Cape Times, Business Day, and the Natal Witness, form a cartel within the South African print media industry and they speak and perform in similar manners. For example, looking at the South African newspaper industry during 2002-2003, the three newspaper corporations Independent News and Media, Johnnic, and Naspers accounted for 17 of the 19 main daily newspapers, or 89% of the market, and 12 of the 13 weekly newspapers, or 92% of the market or virtual control. Since that period Independent News and Media has added a daily tabloid paper in Cape Town, Daily Voice. Additionally, these corporations belong to a variety of trade groups, such as South African Advertising Research Foundation (SAARF), South African National Editors Forum (SANEF), and Print Media SA (PMSA).
Pricing is another mechanism to control the market. These large corporations control vast amounts of media and they do not manufacture nuts and bolts: they manufacture a social and political world for South Africans. They have immense power. We will examine the repercussions later in this chapter, but one only has to recall the former Soviet Union to know that having a centralised media is detrimental to competition, diversity of opinion, and unbiased reporting.
These corporations are not only vast and connected to the corporate world through their holdings, but also intimately connected through their board staff. Board members often come from the same interlocking institutions that run the economy and they tend to be captains of industry, former government officials, bankers, and lawyers who do not criticize the product or market. They generally come from the same socio-economic class. Board members of Independent News and Media, Johnnic, and Naspers are naturally invested in having the company turn a profit for the shareholders. An examination of Naspers’ and Johnnic’s non-executive board members further reflects this investment in the economy, as board members have relations with the South African economy. Having corporate leaders on the board affects how the news will portray those corporations and broader neo-economic policies in general. For example, a paper may not provide negative media coverage of a fellow board member.
Figure 8 presents the non-executive board members (Independent News and Media non-executive board members were not included because they are primarily located outside South Africa):
NON-EXECUTIVE CORPORATE BOARD MEMBERS
Naspers Absa; Anglo American; BMW (SA); BP Southern Africa Limited; Bonatla Property Holdings; Brimstone Investment Corporation; Business South Africa; Cape Philharmonic Orchestra; Cape Town Graduate School of Business Board of Advisors; Cape Town Press Club; Don Caldwell Trust; First Rand; Findevco; Helen Suzman Foundation; Industrial Development Corporation; KWV Group; Loubser Du plessis Inc.; Momentum Life; Murray and Roberts; Rhodes University; Pick ’n Pay Stores Limited; Sanlam; Shoma Education Trust; South African Economic Society; South African Foundation; South African Institute of International Affairs; South African Institute of Race Relations; Stigtingvir Bemagtiging duer Afrikaans; University of Pretoria; University of Stellenbosch; University of Western Cape; World Wildlife Fund (SA) Johnnic ACCI; African Legends Investment Limited; AngloGold; Anglo American Platinum; Caltex Oils SA; Commonwealth Business Council; Coronation Investments and Trading; Datatec; First Rand Limited; Macsteel Holdings Limited; Millennium Consolidated Investments; MTN; Nedcor Investment Bank Holding; Old Mutual Life Holdings (SA); South African Breweries; Transnet Airports Company South Africa; Snoek Wholesalers (Proprietary) LTD
Board members tend to be conservative politically, as they have a vested interest in keeping the economic and political system unchanged since they already profit from it. The appointment of university faculty, captains of industry, and well-known figures provides valuable credibility and respectability for corporate image. Furthermore, board members speak on the behalf of the corporation to the larger corporate world and the public at large. In short, managers and board members do not want to upset property or social structures or do anything that will lessen their position within the market and society.
Corporate control of the media results in censorship, skewed news, and propaganda on the behalf of “special interests that dominate the state and private activity.” A story to illustrate this point comes from San Francisco, California. In 1999, under legal deposition, a Hearst Corporate executive revealed that the San Francisco Examiner would provide favourable media coverage for San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown’s re-election, if he would give his support to the Hearst Corporation’s purchase of the San Francisco Chronicle, the other daily paper in town. As predicted, media coverage of the election was positive for Mayor Brown and negative for his challenger.
Like many countries around the world, South Africa has a public broadcasting system which the state manages, in this case through the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC). State managers and politicians have long realized the power of shaping and controlling state media enterprises. Speaking about the role of the media, Minster to the President, Essop Pahad, captures the importance of the media at a May 2008 media conference on South African branding. He states,The media are not neutral purveyors of news and voyeurs of facts. They are political actors and political agenda setters in their own right and through the social construction of news… Through a set of values which they secrete…they decide what is important for readers to think about, they in effect structure the thinking of readers.
Also in 2008, there were a series of major turf battles within the ANC about SABC. The Chief Executive Dali Mpofu was suspended several times, the head of news Snuki Zikalala was suspended by Mpofu, board members appointed by former President Mbeki were asked to resign, the minister of communication Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri tried to take control of SABC, and Parliament tried to create laws to fix the personnel infighting. Many of the individuals involved went to court to air their concerns. During the court proceedings people stated that they were being blacklisted and there were even protests outside SABC studios in several provinces. Much of the infighting within the ANC about SABC stems from the leadership change at the ANC conference in Polokwane in December 2007 when former Deputy President Jacob Zuma beat out President Thabo Mbeki as the leader of the ANC. Prior to the Polokwane conference President Mbeki appointed several people to the SABC Board, since then people have accused SABC as being loyal to President Mbeki. The new ANC leadership wants their team inside SABC. With a presidential election slated for 2009, factions within the ANC are vying for control of SABC. It appears that each side is digging in for a long fight. Ironically, the Broadcasting Act No. 4 of 1999 has clear guidelines about politics and the media. In Chapter IV—Public Broadcasting Service and Charter of Corporation, Section 10 –(1) The Public Service provided by the Corporation must…[Subsection] (d), provide significant news and public affairs programming which meets the highest standards of journalism, as well as fair and unbiased coverage, impartiality, balance and independence from government, commercial and other interests;
While the Broadcasting Act No. 4 of 1999 is clear that politics has no place within SABC the current battles within the ANC and SABC indicate the power people within those organizations have over the State controlled media.
In democracies, wealth, capital, and power have inordinate amount of influence in shaping economic and political outcomes. Herman and Chomsky write about the first filter of ownership:In sum, the dominant media firms are quite large businesses; they are controlled by very wealthy people or by mangers who are subject to sharp constraints by owners and other market–profit-oriented forces; and they are closely interlocking, and have important common interests, with other major corporations, banks and government.
Independent News and Media, Johnnic Holdings, and Naspers clearly meet the first filter criteria of being large corporations that own media products as outlined by Herman and Chomsky. The other filters: advertising, sources, flak, and neoliberalism will be covered in the subsequent chapters.Impacts of corporate media
The role of the media has changed as corporations have become more consolidated. Both the media and corporations have evolved dramatically away from what they were originally intended. Historically, it is important to note that the creation of corporations was done by the state as a mechanism to serve national interests and the public good. The Hudson Bay Company and the East India Company were two of England’s corporations authorised by the monarchy to serve such purposes throughout the empire.47 Over the centuries corporations have evolved to almost exclusively focus on the advancement of their own private interests and profits rather than national interests.
It is the state and courts that give corporations their status, rights, and legal standing within societies by enforcing laws, property rights, and setting parameters around global trade. Corporations of today have more rights than the average citizen.48 This state-led support coupled with the emergence and growth of economic liberalisation has allowed corporations to flourish. For example, the magnitude of corporations can be seen in the fact that the 20 top corporations make more than the GDP of all but five countries. The media has not been immune to this exponential corporate growth. As stated earlier, the press has seen itself as the ‘fourth estate’ or ‘fourth branch’ of government by fulfilling a watchdog role and contributing valuable information to citizens. Ideally, this would be true and contribute to a healthy, strong democracy. Yet the realities of neoliberalism have turned the media corporate, thereby weakening the watchdog role of the media.
Both media scholars and the media itself criticise this transformation of the press. James Squires highlights his experiences as an editor for the Chicago Times, in his book Read All About It: the Corporate Take Over of America’s Newspapers:Journalism, the mirror through which society has seen itself, has been drastically distorted, its practice commercialized and appropriated for a decidedly different purpose. Without much notice, its role as the information provider for the democracy is being diminished and eclipsed by a successful far more efficient at delivering information but one without brand-name credibility, proven conscience or character references.
Increased globalisation and concentration of the media has had a negative effect on journalism.
Tom Johnson, former Los Angles Times publisher and later president of CNN, also highlights the significant impact of media ownership:It is not reporters or editors, but the owners of the media who decide the quality of the news… It is they who most often select, hire, fire, and promote the editors and publishers, top general managers, news directors, and managing editors- the journalists-who run the newsrooms… Owners determine newsroom budgets, and the tiny amount of time and space allotted to news versus advertising. They set the standard of quality by the quality of the people they choose and the news policy they embrace. Owners decide how much profit should be produced from their media properties. Owners decide what quality levels they are willing to support by how well or how poorly they pay their journalists.50
Again, as journalism becomes increasingly run like a business, news is diminished as profit takes centre stage.
In the same manner, the board for Independent News Media, Johnnic, and Naspers also set the standard and quality of their respective newspapers. In their book, The News about the News: American Journalism in Peril, journalists Leonard Downie Jr. and Robert G. Kaiser of the Washington Post evaluated the media in the US and made the following summing statements:
- News is the most important profit center for local stations and profit is more important than news.
- When profits, and thus rating, matter most, the temptation to woo bigger audiences with crime, violence, disasters and celebrities is overwhelming.
- High-tech gadgets and low-tech gimmicks appeal to local station mangers more than money on deeper, more thorough news coverage.
- The rise of tabloid-style celebrity news and the rise of celebrity journalists.
- The substitution of talk, opinion and argument for news.
- News treated as entertainment and entertainment treated as news.
- Government, political, foreign and other news of importance to people’s civic lives was largely supplanted by crime, weather, health, consumer, investor, entertainment and other news believed to be of more interest to viewers and readers in their personal lives.
- Covering the news, once seen primarily as a public service that could also make a profit, became primarily a vehicle for attracting audiences and selling advertising, to make money.
The above consequences are the result of corporate control of the board room. These concerns are not limited to American journalists.
A 2004 survey in Canada found that 68 percent of journalists felt that the quality of journalism in all chain-owned newspapers has declined under increased media concentration over the past few years. ‘Profit’ is the current buzzword and universal organising principle in the economic world order, and is more important than delivering a solid product to the community. The voices of these journalists raise concerns about the relationship between corporate control of the media, and democracy. What are the specific repercussions of being beholden to advertisers, treating news as entertainment, and increasing opinion and sensationalism? The cultural managers, policy makers, and people of wealth and influence in democracies depend on the mass media for their news and information of the world. Often, they must rely on the “pictures in our head,” which the media predominantly provides, to make sense of the world. News selectively interprets the world and often gives a narrow or limited view that leaders and individuals tacitly accept as accurate and subsequently make decisions based on this information.
Corporations tend not to attack the system that feeds them, resulting in a decrease in the amount of investigative journalism, especially of the corporate sector, and an increase in sensationalism, soft news, and hypercommercialism. I will now briefly explore examples of each of these consequences, beginning with an illustration of how corporate control leads to more positive portrayal of the parent corporation. Between 2002 and 2003, media coverage of forestry in South Africa by Business Day, Cape Times, and the Natal Witness did not include a single source from a forestry worker (out of 265 articles and 552 sources). Forestry news was slanted to meet the needs of the wealthy not the needs of the workers.
News and information are not ideologically free. Instead, they travel through a series of filters: ownership, advertising, sources, flak, and neoliberalism. US media critic, Michael Parenti writes about the power of the media in shaping world views:Even when we don’t believe what the media say, we are still hearing or reading their viewpoints rather than some other. They are still setting the agenda, defining what it is we must believe or disbelieve, accept or reject. The media exert a subtle, persistent influence in defining the scope of respectable political discourse, channelling public attention in directions that are essentially supportive of the existing politico-economic system.
It should not surprise anyone that private, for-profit media corporations instinctively carry out those behaviours that serve their own self-interest.
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