Africa’s top publisher to close South African publications, cut jobs

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African media and e-commerce group Naspers plans to lay off more than 500 employees and close a number of newspapers and magazines, including leading weekly tabloid the Sunday Sun, its print division Media24 said on Tuesday.

“For many of our print titles the benefits of prior interventions to offset the structural declines and keep them on the shelf no longer exist and they’ve run out of options in this regard,” Media24 CEO Ishmet Davidson said in a statement.

Media24 is Africa’s largest publisher, printer, and distributor of magazines and books, and is also the continent’s largest newspaper publisher with around 3,000 employees across eight divisions.

The company said it would shut down one other national paper, four community newspapers, and four national magazines while outsourcing the majority of its monthlies and halving the frequency.

Its 70 year-old Drum Magazine, one of Africa’s first Black lifestyle publications, will move online.

The layoffs and closures come in the wake of planned job cuts at public broadcaster the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), and similar moves at other members of the country’s “big four” print publishers – Arena Holdings, Caxton and Independent News.

Since the pandemic hit in mid-March followed by a national lockdown, print publications have taken a hit of between 40% and 100% to advertising and sales revenue, forcing many to migrate online where they earn a fraction of their former ad sales.

The South African National Editors Forum said in June around 50,000 people employed in the printing sector could be affected by newspaper closures. National unemployment is at a record 30.1%.

“The writing’s been on the wall for the global print media industry for years,” said Dinesh Balliah, media studies lecturer at Wits University, adding that more closures locally would follow with newspapers struggling to monetise online content.

“South Africa has managed to buck the trend for a while given its high data costs, which made good quality news sites difficult to access while newspapers remained relatively cost-effective. It really isn’t looking good.”

In Britain, Daily Mirror owner Reach RCH.L on Tuesday announced it would cut about 550 jobs, or 12% of its workforce, after the COVID-19 pandemic hit circulation and advertising at its national and regional newspapers.

Partner Content

Standard Chartered and Airtel Africa form a partnership to drive financial inclusion across Africa

Dubai, United Arab Emirates / London, United Kingdom – 13 August 2020: Standard Chartered Bank and Airtel Africa have today announced a...

THE FUTURE JUST ARRIVED: THE ROLE OF BANKS IN A POST-COVID WORLD

THE COVID-19 GLOBAL pandemic has brought forward the future. It has brought about humanity’s biggest challenge in a century, to choose between...

Mauritius-Africa, a partnership for shared prosperity

By: Mathieu Mandeng In the current complex and challenging circumstances that are testing the...

Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up for free newsletters and get more CNBC AFRICA delivered to your inbox

- Advertisement -