ANCWL calls for dismantling of white-owned print media

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Bikers rev their machines as marchers gather during the #ANCWLmarch on parliament, 30 October, 2015.

Bikers rev their machines as marchers gather during the #ANCWLmarch on parliament, 30 October, 2015.

JOHANNESBURG - The African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) on Friday called for the dismantling of “white-owned print media oligopoly” which it said was “long overdue”.

National spokeswoman Toko Xasa said the ANCWL was appealing to the ANC-led government to support ownership, control and access to media by historically disadvantaged communities.

“It cannot be allowed to continue being a wholly white-owned subjective determiner of the public agenda and opinion,” Xasa said in a statement.

She said the government must assist in developing “black-owned” print media houses, of which 50 percent must be owned by women.

Xasa said the government should then channel its advertising to such community and small commercial media.

“Facts reflect that after 22 years of democracy, the print media in South Africa is still dominated by four big players. These companies also dominate the entire value chain of the market, especially the printing, distribution and advertising,” said Xasa.

“They own almost all the mainstream newspapers and community newspapers, most of the consumer magazine titles, some of specialist magazines and online news platforms.”

Xasa said that print media was at the center of the battle of ideas, a contested terrain that reflected the ideological battles and power relations based on race, class and gender in South African society and it needed to be transformed for it to be an unbiased platform.

“As the integral part of the ANC, the ANCWL, without being apologetic, will condemn any media house used for subjective criticism of the ANC and its government and will expose any forces of darkness co-opting media into regime change agenda.

“The ANCWL is not calling for media to be the praise singers of the ANC and its government. It calls for media to produce reliable, accurate and credible information.”

Xasa said that the ANCWL affirmed the position of the ANC that South Africans had to enjoy the freedom of expression in the context of a diverse media environment that was reflective of their situations and daily experiences.

She said the the ANCWL was still to be convinced that the media sector, which was still dominated by those who for many years were allies of the apartheid regime, was reporting objectively.

However, the ANCWL did not name any media houses that they felt needed to be dismantled.