SACP statement on the proposed takeover of AVUSA by Mvelaphanda
21 May 2012
The SACP has noted media reports of an offer by Mvelaphanda Holdings to increase its shareholding in AVUSA to that of a majority shareholder. The SACP is strongly opposed to concentration of the ownership of media in a few monopolies. Monopoly in media poses one of the most serious threats to diversity of opinion and media freedom. Already the lack of diversity and different opinion in South African media is a reflection of the concentration of print media into four oligopolies in South Africa.
The SACP believes that for democracy to flourish, our country needs a diverse media in terms of ownership and content. Modem democracies need a choice of politics and ideas, and that choice requires access to truly diverse and competing sources of news, literature, entertainment, and popular culture. We will be told that should the owners of media houses abuse their power the public will punish them by exercising their choice not to buy the paper. But we all know that, as is the situation in South Africa, there is nothing to choose from in the first place.
The planned Mvela/Avusa proposed deal is not just a simple commercial transaction as capitalist apologists would like us to believe, but is a deliberate attempt to create a media empire and all the business and political influence this goes with. There would be serious social consequences if this takeover were allowed to go through. Power and control of access to information must never be allowed to be in fewer hands.
The statement made by AVUSA acting CEO that he would like to see Avusa as the Time Warner of Africa lets the cat out of the bag. Africa does not need a Time Warner. Africa needs a people-centered and people owned media that communicates values of solidarity, values of Ubuntu, that puts societal needs first and not profit.
Excessive media power is now used to influence and coerce the exercise of political power and we should never allow capitalists who cannot win elections to use their pole position in the public domain to extract particular actions from our popularly elected governments. Media ownership is not just about profits; it is also about influence.
The SACP is strongly opposed to this take over. We are not surprised that the champions of freedom and democracy are silent over this matter. It is convenient as this benefits their lust for getting rich and for business and political influence. The silence of media houses and our distinguished editors who claim to be champions against abuse of power is not surprising at all as they stand to benefit and cannot oppose a system they so loyally serve.
Issued by the SACP
SACP Spokesperson – 082 226 1802