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Media News South Africa

Beeld, Rapport, City Press, Daily Sun and Soccer Laduma to close

Media24 looks to close the print editions of Beeld, Rapport, City Press, Daily Sun and Soccer Laduma as well as the digital (PDF) editions of Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap, and the digital hub SNL24.
Source: ©  Media24 looks to close the print editions of Beeld, Rapport, City Press, Daily Sun and Soccer Laduma
Source: © Town CCID Cape Town CCID Media24 looks to close the print editions of Beeld, Rapport, City Press, Daily Sun and Soccer Laduma

It will transition Rapport, City Press and Daily Sun into digital-only brands.

“We anticipate that the proposed restructure could result in at least 400 job losses, with 400 more positions transferring to Novus Holdings with the sale and some roles possibly needed beyond 30 September,” says Ishmet Davidson, CEO of Media24.

In addition, it will sell On the Dot, the media logistics business, and the community newspaper portfolio to Novus Holdings, subject to regulatory approvals.

This was announced in a statement released today, 18 June 2024, in which Media24 says it is considering the closure of the print editions of five newspapers while evolving three of them into digital-only brands.

This follows reports of the newspapers closing in a MoneyWeb report.

The company will start consultations with staff and the transfer of the sold businesses to its new owner this week.

Rapport and City Press as digital brands

As digital brands, Rapport and City Press will reside at Netwerk24 and News24 respectively. Readers can continue to access Beeld, Volksblad and Die Burger Oos on Netwerk24.

Daily Sun

This renewed focus on its two hero digital news brands contributed to Media24’s decision to close SNL24 and sell its interests in the profitable local newspaper sector, says Davidson.

“Our main objective is building and cementing a sustainable model for digital news journalism.

Daily Sun (part of SNL24) represents an important segment of the middle market, that we will continue to serve with the relaunch of the brand as a standalone and free e-news site,” adds Davidson.

Die Burger and Son

Die Burger and Son in the Western Cape are both unaffected by these changes.

They have a separate infrastructure that remains viable due to a more concentrated local footprint and are marginally profitable.

“In addition, Die Burger holds great historical value as the foundation upon which Naspers was built,” says Davidson.

On the Dot

With only a small print media portfolio remaining, Media24 also decided to divest of its media logistics business, On the Dot.

The consultation process is expected to be completed over the next three months, with 30 September earmarked as the last day of publication for the affected newspapers. '

A restructure of the business

In the statement Davidson, says, “In South Africa, like elsewhere in the world, consumer preferences have changed. People now read more news than ever, but most prefer to do so on their cellphones or laptops and publishers have to comply with their preferences.

“Consequently, print media globally has been suffering structural declines in circulation and advertising for decades. Combined with rising fixed distribution costs, this has had a devastating impact on print operations.

“As a result, our titles in the northern region have been on life support for a while. Combined losses are projected to mount to R200m over the next three years.

“After years of cut-backs, we’ve reached the end of cost reductions to try save these print operations. We’ve simply run out of options.

“So we have to restructure our business now. It will also allow the remaining viable brands to move fully to digital and will strengthen our two main digital news brands, News24 and Netwerk24, serving audiences and society across multiple market segments.”

Job losses to a minimum

Davidson adds that the business intends to reduce its corporate and support services and operational costs in line with the changes made in the business.

“We are fully committed to managing this highly sensitive consultation with compassion while following the processes prescribed by law and intend to keep job losses – particularly amongst our journalists – to a minimum. Unfortunately, we cannot share any further details until the process has been concluded,” says Davidson.

A digital future

“There is no doubt whatsoever that our future is digital. But our digital news services no longer face competition from only other local publishers. Our main competitors now are Facebook, Google, Instagram, and TikTok; all of which are well funded and based offshore," adds Davidson.

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