South Africa: Government Dismisses Advertising Bias

press release

The Presidency has noted media reports about government media advertising and a subsequent call made by the Leader of the Democratic Alliance, Ms Helen Zille for the establishment of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry to investigate government advertising.

Government undertakes advertising in all mediums across the board which reaches a variety of targeted audiences. The government advertising is spent in newspapers across the country, radio stations, television and digital media. In this regard, there is no basis for accusation of advertising bias towards the New Age newspaper.

In this financial year of 2012/13 government has by end of November 2012 through Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) Media Bulk Buying spent R108 million rand across all platforms, in the process saving government about R17 million of public funds.

The advertising expenditure on group of newspapers for the past two financial years and the current financial year through GCIS was R20 006 080 in 2010/11 and R55 791 902 for 2011/12 and R59 285 664 in the current financial year. This excludes direct advertising by departments, provinces, municipalities and SOEs that do not work through GCIS.

In 2010/11, an amount R7 035 538 (52%) was spent on Naspers group of newspapers, R6 891 259 (34%) on Avusa media, R2 726 400(13.6%) on Independent Newspapers and R122 700 (0.6%) on the New Age newspaper.

In the 2011/12, R19 431 629 (35%) was spent on Naspers, R15 588 285 (28%) on Avusa media, R7 950 114 (14%) on Independent Newspapers and R8 850 165 (15.9%) on the New Age Newspaper. In the current financial year (2012/13) the advertising spent thus far is R16 003 717 (27%) on Naspers, R16 451 828 (28%) on Avusa, R11 681 268 (19.7%) on Independent Newspapers and R6 070 697 (10.2%) was spent on the New Age newspaper.

This analysis states clearly that the New Age newspaper enjoys less advertising as compared to other groups of newspapers.

The DA's conclusion is drawn only from looking at advertising against a single newspaper but not advertising across all media platforms. It is therefore unjustifiable, that a biased study of government advertising against a single medium can qualify to be a conclusion of bias advertising.

The government expenditure is accounted for and audited by the Auditor General of South Africa which has been established to ensure that public funds are used effectively and efficiently and that it gets value for money.

GCIS through its Media Bulk Buying does monitor and advise government departments on advertising in the media space. Although government has not conducted a full study of advertising across government this sample bears testimony that there is no basis for the DA's unfortunate conclusion.

The DA's accusations should therefore be dismissed as it does not represent a true reflection of government advertising.

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