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Media News South Africa

World Cup: mixed feelings about commercial impact on media

While the 2010 FIFA World Cup left a bad taste in the mouths of print media owners, broadcasting and outdoor media were smiling, although the latter's pockets were not as full as expected. This emerged yesterday, Thursday 25 November 2010, at the Annual Media and Marketing conference held at the Wanderers Club in Johannesburg.

Daily Sun publisher Deon du Plessis said: "We did not do well and advertising did not do great, either. I must say 2010 was not a good year for us. We are a commuter newspaper, and after the world cup, many people were laid off. It means people stopped going to taxi ranks, train stations and bus stops.

"But we will work hard in 2011 to regain the ground we lost."

"Great year for broadcasting"

However, there was no such complaint from Yusuf Abramjee, head of news and current affairs at Primedia Broadcasting. Said Abramjee, "Radio did well and we are happy. It has been a great year for broadcasting in general. We must also thank Julius Malema and Jackie Selebi for keeping our audiences on their toes. But, most of all, perhaps we have to thank the SABC for doing a great job out there."

Convicted former police boss Selebi is due to spend 15 years in jail, but he is appealing the sentence. Malema, the populist ANC Youth League president, has become a 'star politician' in South Africa since the dawn of the Zuma administration and whenever he speaks the newsrooms shake, scrambling to get a snapshot of his stunts.

But, as Malema's immature and provocative utterances began to get on many people's nerves, the media has been under immense pressure to get him off the front page and top of the news headlines.

Abramjee said SANEF (the editors' body) held discussions about Malema, but what transpired was that Malema sells newspapers.

Can survive without Malema

However, Du Plessis said his newspaper can survive without Malema. "He needs us; we don't need him!" he interjected.

Recently appointed Independent Online ( editor, Adrian Ephraim, said his website has seen an amazing spike during the world cup. Although they had to bring in an additional sports news team to help out, he said they did not see any need to be innovative.

"People are looking for convenience worldwide and in this digital age, print media editors must become more tech-savvy," Ephraim said.

Andy Rice, chairman of Yellowwood Future Archives, said: "For us, 2010 is not really a year to remember in a commercial point of view." Nevertheless, Rice urged people to reinforce strategies rather than saying 'the world is changing, so let's change everything'.

Questioned claim

Gordon Patterson, of the Audit Bureau of Circulations and Starcom MediaVest, questioned Abramjee's claim that radio has done well, saying: "Maybe in a commercial point of view, but in my view there has been a systematic decline in listenership lately. Well, maybe because content is king."

Abramjee promptly defended his industry: "Let's not generalise. Talk radio is different from commercial radio. Talk radio has seen a dramatic increase this year, including its revenues."

According to the 2010 PricewaterhouseCoopers report, outdoor media was expected to grow by 8.5% in 2010 as a result of the world cup. Although the industry made 'a lot of money' during the tournament, some businesses said their revenues did not match their high expectations.

Continental Outdoor Media CEO Barry Sayer put the blame partly on the late Gautrain tender.

The conference, dubbed 'The Smartest Event of the Year', was hosted by Future Publishing in association with and Absa.

About Issa Sikiti da Silva

Issa Sikiti da Silva is a winner of the 2010 SADC Media Awards (print category). He freelances for various media outlets, local and foreign, and has travelled extensively across Africa. His work has been published both in French and English. He used to contribute to as a senior news writer.

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