Government Diverse Advertising spending by Minister Faith Muthambi
As the Minister of Communications, I need to set the record straight on a recycled myth that the DA has peddled as a parliamentary question every year for the last three years. This relates to government advertising spending managed by the Department of Communications. The DA alleges that Government rewards “state-friendly media”. On Thursday 29th January, after I released a breakdown of Government advertising spending through the Department of Communications, this myth is back, copied and pasted under the by-line of Gavin Davis.
It’s clear that Hon. Davis MP has a shallow understanding of advertising communication at best and is being disingenuous in his attempt to shoe-horn his obvious prejudice against the black owned media into a false argument to further his own agenda. A passing knowledge of newspaper distribution footprints, reader demographics and editorial content would have prevented the obvious flaws in the honourable member’s allegations.
As a matter of fact, The New Age is much closer to the Business Day in its editorial balance based on tonality of coverage. A research conducted by an internationally renowned company, Media Tenor has produced a report analysing positive reporting on President Zuma for the period July 2014-January 2015 shows that 10% of the New Age articles report positively on President Zuma, with 9% of Business Day reportage carrying equally positive content on the President. Are we to deduce that Business Day is a propaganda platform or Pro President Zuma?
To make decisions in a dynamic media environment, the Department of Communications in-house media buying team directs strategic government media buying using Telmar Media’s suite of world-wide leading media advertising software and services used for reach, frequency and optimization. Telmar’s 10,000 users across 85 countries include many of the world’s leading advertising agencies, digital and print publishers, broadcasters and advertisers. The in-house media buying personnel attend regular SAARF and Telmar accredited training, and are Advertising Media Association of South Africa members.
The New Age – a newspaper with a national distribution footprint is being incorrectly compared to metropolitan newspapers (The Herald – Nelson Mandela Bay, The Mercury – Durban, Pretoria News – Pretoria) competing in defined regional markets. If we followed Hon. Davis MP’s argument, government would need to advertise in a greater number of metropolitan newspapers – in all provinces to match the footprint of The New Age, at a greater cost than that of advertising in The New Age.
For the record, The New Age is distributed in all nine provinces, with six regional editions. Each daily edition of The New Age has a dedicated provincial focus page highlighting local news in addition to its coverage of national and global news.
Government uses mass communication to fulfil its mandate to communicate to the largest possible spread of South Africans. By his own admission Hon. Davis concedes that government uses 248 newspapers to inform the public of its programme, but omits the fact that government is the largest supporter of print media diversity through its advertising.
It is incomprehensible that the honourable member continues to peddle half truths about the audience size of The New Age. It’s readership of 153 000 excludes the additional 621 000 viewers measured by AMPS for its TNA Briefings – a live broadcast event that combines stakeholder interaction, its print readership and social media following with national television coverage.
I invite Hon. Davis MP to visit Tshedimosetso House; a seTswana word meaning insight, learning, information, or erudition (the irony of the name may escape him) to be tutored by the home grown talent employed in the Department of Communications media buying operation. Perhaps this might cure his reflex to see conspiracies where there are none.
Statement issued by Minister of Communications, Faith Muthambi, February 1 2015
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