I am sure like everybody else, you have been reading about
the massive corruption being unearthed by the various investigative bodies and
journalists in our country.
Just this past week the Zondo Commission was in full cry,
and Pieter-Louis Myburgh released his book on Ace Magashule. The numbers are
astronomical. Depending on who you believe – South Africa has lost R30-R300
billion per year because of corrupt practises.
But for me the bigger loss is the loss of opportunity.
The past eight years have been described as the
“forgotten years” or the “lost years”.
This phrase really hurts my heart because it is so true. R30
billion across eight years is R240 billion that could have solved so many of
our country’s ills. Imagine that sort of investment in youth education, housing
or the medical field.
But Chris, you are a media guy, what’s this got to do with
anything. Well, everything I would postulate.
The impact on advertising investment: firstly, while the
world markets are all ticking up, our markets continue to tick down.
Business confidence and performance has a direct link on ad
spend. Net effect is a direct impact on advertising investment.
I have had numerous discussions with South Africa’s biggest
media owners, all of whom without exception stating that this is the hardest
economic climate they have ever traded in.
In years gone by the adage “flat is the new up”
was jokingly bandied about. Now it is cried out in desperation and frustration.
Lost revenue means less investment in content, less
investment in production, less investment in acquisition, and less investment
in developing the new, smart, and amazing.
Only the strong, nimble, agile and intelligent will survive.
The end is nowhere in sight. Buckle up boys and girls, this ain’t getting
better any time soon.
Electricity supply and your TV ratings: Britta Reid recently
wrote an excellent article on the impact of load shedding on TV ratings.
The numbers are scary. In heavy load shedding weeks, up to
35% of audiences are lost. As with the overall corruption problem, that is also
a lost opportunity.
An opportunity that businesses would have had to sell more
products, make more money, and invest in our country. TV stations have for the
most part dug in their heels when it comes to compensation (rightly or
wrongly). But lower ratings will no doubt impact them down the line as rate
setting and projecting will become even more of a gamble.
Are your magazines reaching their readers? Many magazines
use the South African Post Office to deliver to their most loyal readers, their
subscribers. Advertisers gladly pay for their ads assuming that it lands in
every hand promised at the right time.
Well, considering the challenges at SAPO that is no longer a
straight guarantee. Some magazines probably arrive months later due to the
inefficiencies. Opportunity lost once again…
The challenge with corruption is that it permeates and
impacts every fibre of our business. Whether it’s ratings on TV, magazines (or
lack thereof) in the hands of consumers, illegal billboards, fake news stories
being broadcast, or real news stories not being broadcast – there is no getting
around it. Corruption has a deep impact on what we do every day.
President Ramaphosa has a massive task ahead of him. He will
need time, backing, investment, and a brave soul to turn this country around.
Most importantly, this is not a problem solely solved by government. Government
simply can’t. Private enterprise and big business needs to jump in. It affects
all of us.
One has to believe that it is not all doom and gloom going
forward. As an industry we are a collective of creative genius! We are diverse,
This year should be the year where we launch new agencies
(like Meta Media), where we inspire our staff, where we lift up the youth in
our industry. Where media owners need to help build our nation through
education and inspiration.
We have access to the whole country through our platforms.
So let’s get our hands dirty. Bring on May 8. Thuma Mina.
Chris Botha is Group Managing Director of Park