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OHMSA responds on SAARF funding crisis

Following its letter to Paul Haupt of SAARF, summarising an agreement reached in respect of research levies, Out of Home Media South Africa (OHMSA) wishes to publish an open letter to the media stating the contents of that letter and to clarify its position regarding research levies.
This agreement followed a proposal made by SAARF to OHMSA in terms of its member contributions to SAARF's overhead shortfall for 2011.

The summary reads as follows:

  • OHMSA has played an active role in industry discussions pertaining to the levy system from the very inception in or about September 2010. This included recommendations to SAARF by our then acting executive director, Barbara Cooke, who suggested measures to improve the section of the AMPS research questionnaire relating to out of home media. At the same time, OHMSA began investigating the possibility of using international research to supplement the AMPS data. However the concerns that were raised on behalf of the out of home industry were in our view overlooked and no reasonable headway was made in resolving these issues. It is important to note that until such time as all industry stakeholders are satisfied that a system of equal sacrifice is attained regarding the collection of levies, the current frayed state of industry research will not be mended. Moreover it was, in our view, this general feeling of a skewed equilibrium that sparked the withdrawal of PMSA and ourselves from MAMCA.

  • Our letter to Mr Haupt of SAARF detailed the fact that OHMSA members were committed to paying the 2011 shortfall amount requested by SAARF. We requested that SAARF open a separate bank account to facilitate the payments.

  • Over and above the contributions to the 2011 shortfall, contributing members would pay to SAARF future amounts due pending resolution of the industry funding discussions. OHMSA members would collect the levies and make payment directly into the bank account opened for this purpose.

  • OHMSA will continue to encourage the collection and payment of the levies within its membership.

  • OHMSA has also circulated to SAARF and MASA the current out of home matrix indicating which out of home media types and offered MASA an opportunity to provide us with their input. In addition, a number of high-level meetings with OHMSA executives, MASA and SAARF have been held to improve communication and participation.

  • OHMSA has continued to investigate international research, which is appropriate to local conditions and has shared this with SAARF and MASA. This research would supplement the limited SAARF data currently available and would be a major step in the right direction for the sector and its stakeholders.

It is unfortunate, although understandable in the current circumstances, that the payment of levies and the allocation of research funds to all advertising mediums have become fragmented. It is our contention that the industry at large should be working towards the production of credible research that provides comparative figures between advertising mediums regardless of the size of the medium and the depth of its pocket.

The current funding model allows competitive disadvantage and ultimately results in painting a skewed market overview because each medium pays for its own research. The critical goal is for equality to be achieved.

OHMSA would like to take this opportunity to reassure its stakeholders that we have acted in their best interests. With an ever-increasing need for effective research, OHMSA will do its utmost to ensure the efficacy and development of research for this rapidly growing media sector.