JOHANNESBURG – South Africa’s Public Servants Association, which represents more than 240,000 civil servants, on Wednesday pleaded with the government to financially support the media industry to prevent large-scale retrenchments.
It said as the country grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic, the media had been an effective means of mass communication and remained instrumental in educating the population and sharing information.
The industry has not been spared the economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, which saw the government impose a lockdown from March 27 to curb transmissions, grounding most business activity.
The lockdown regulations have since been gradually eased, but for most businesses the damage has already been done, with many facing closures, while many people have already lost their jobs.
On Wednesday, the PSA said it was aware of the constraints the government faced in its efforts to rescue the economy, but urged it to “carefully consider the impact of its decisions regarding bailouts in the interest of the country and institutions tasked with upholding constitutional democracy”.
“The PSA appeals to government to value the role of the media that has constantly served the country’s best interests and provide financial assistance to rescue the industry from collapse,” it said.
“Institutions such as (public broadcaster) the SABC serve as the sole source of information to many citizens during this testing time. In addition, the national broadcaster is also conducting online learning to assist thousands of learners who are unable to attend schools because of the pandemic.”
At the weekend, the South African National Editors’ Forum said it was also deeply concerned about the ongoing wave of retrenchments at media houses across the country and urged the government and the private sector to pitch in with support.
Earlier this month, Media24, the print media division of South African company Naspers, said it considering closing five magazines and two newspapers and reducing staff, among several measures in response to the negative impact of the Covid-19 crisis on the business.
Primedia, the parent company of radio stations 702, KFM and Cape Talk as well as news outlet Eyewitness, has also said it would cut jobs as it restructured its operations amid a tough economic climate, compounded by the pandemic.
– African News Agency (ANA)