Cyril voices concern over impact of COVID-19

CAPE TOWN: President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday voiced concern over the heavy losses inflicted on South Africa’s media by the COVID-19 pandemic.
It is a great concern that like all other sectors of the economy, South Africa’s media houses had been dealt with a serious blow by the coronavirus pandemic, Ramaphosa said in his weekly presidential address.
Financial difficulties are being faced across the board, from online titles and traditional broadsheets to the public broadcaster – the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), the president said.
He said this was just one of the issues raised during his engagement with the South African National Editors’ Forum last week.
A number of publications lost up to 60 percent of their income in the early days of the lockdown, forcing companies to implement salary cuts and reduce staff numbers or working hours, said Ramaphosa.
Other publications have even been forced to close, including some of South Africa’s most established and well-known magazine titles, he said.
The president acknowledged that job losses that have resulted from the lockdown have exacerbated a crisis for media companies already facing challenges like loss of advertising revenues, falling circulation and market share being taken by mobile-first news and other technologies.
However, instead of lamenting their fate, the media industry continued to strive to refine business models, drive innovations and retain staff as much as possible, Ramaphosa said.
With respect to the role of media in society, Ramaphosa called the media “a unique entity in any society because its practitioners fulfill a role that is so essential to our democratic order.”–Agencies