MDDA assists small media acquire piece of advertising cake

Ntsako Mbhokota

Following the recent media debate hosted by MDDA and AMASA in Sandton, Ntsako Mbhokota speaks to Lumko Mtimde the CEO of MDDA (Media Development and Diversity Agency) about their initiative to help small commercial and community media get advertising business by encouraging media buyers to advertise through them.

“Community media struggles a lot to acquire the advertising cake, for a number of reasons, ranging from the advertising industries’ different understanding of what community media is. The problem is that for many years of apartheid the market did not understand South Africa, the market would be structured in such a manner that serves part of South Africa, as opposed to serving South Africa at large” said Mtimde.

According to the South African Research Foundation (SAARF), community radio commands 25 % of the total radio audience in South Africa, which translates to 34-million people of the population of our country. But in regards to the advertising revenue, the community stations only get 6.5% of the total market.

“From a business point of logic this does not tally, how can you have so many listeners and don’t get buyers to put their products in your media? In Interrogating that, it clearly became obvious that it is because some of the people who are working in this industry do not understand it, for example they don’t know Soweto, they don’t know Katlehong, they don’t know the living in those areas therefore it would not make sense to them that the communities there can also buy the same products as the community where they come from.”  Explained Mtimde.

As a way to deal with the challenges facing community and small commercial media MDDA has come up with strategies whereby they partner with the industry stakeholders to come up with solutions to make sure that community media is able to sustain itself.

“We basically have adopted an approach of creating partnerships and working with different stakeholders in order to support our mandate, and AMASA (Advertising Media Association of South Africa) is one such stakeholder particularly in the advertising industry. Having recognized the serious lack of advertising business and understanding that we do not want the media that we support to be perpetually dependent on MDDA funding, we then engaged with the industry to say we need to create an enabling environment for everyone to have access to the advertising cake as we believe that this will promote media diversity and therefore be good for the South African democracy” Said Mtimde.

Prior to our exclusive interview with Mr. Mtimde Transform SA recently attended a media debate held in Sandton hosted by AMASA and MDDA. With the help of AMASA, MDDA encourages established commercial companies to invest in community media through advertising with them.

“We were able to work together to assist in the area of skills development for the sector that we support because one needs to appreciate the importance of advertising and marketing in order to run a good media product, so we partnered with AMASA to conduct training programs and assist our projects to understand this area which is very critical for their business and also hoping to create an enabling environment from the advertising industry to support community media.” Said Mtimde.

Even with the engagement and proposals of this plan to major media buyers, most of them are still skeptical about advertising with community and small commercial media.
“There were tendencies that assumed that automatically the community and small commercial media are not run professionally and therefore it will not be easy for the clients to prove that their product has been marketed in the communities through that media.”

Currently MDDA is at the final stages of the discussion to implement a professionalized online system that will be able to produce accurate community media reports from which the clients can prove that indeed their adverts have been played at such date and time. This system will be designed in such a way that advertisers will also be able to book their
campaigns based on the statistics they find. MDDA hopes to get funding to pilot this project by the end of 2012.

“We are busy trying to come up with the design of a system that is intelligent enough to produce reports in just the press of the button, this information will also be useful for ICASA, the advertising industry, the government and everyone” asserts Mtimde.

Asked if there are any plans to incorporate this as a policy to make sure advertisers do market their products through community media, “there is no plan to create a law that will force people to advertise through community media, no, there is no such a plan, it should come from the freewill of the buyer because it makes business sense.” Mtimde reassured.

Since its official establishment MDDA has funded different types of community and small commercial media, it is the force behind publications such as Genuine magazine, Eastern Cape Woman, Alex Pioneer, Rainbow news, Seipone, Puisano, Bushbuckridge news, Vukani FM, Radio Mafisa, Africa Ignite Kurara FM, Motheo fm, Tshwane CTV, and many more others.

Although MDDA offers support and funds a lot of community magazines and newspapers the organization is still not content with the progress of media diversity in South Africa. “Certainly there is progress but it is not yet at the level which we want it to be. There’s still a lot of work to be done.” said Mtimde.

“Though the process is slow but South Africa is steadily headed towards the right direction, with the government’s commitment to use some of its ad spent on community and small commercial media to target the previously advantaged communities for a number of government services, opportunities and development purposes it only makes sense that the its messages reach out to the people that it is intended to, if community media serves those people then government messages should be sold through that media,” said Mtimde.

MDDA provides grants to community and small commercial media the criteria is simple, one must be able to convince MDDA that their media will add value to the media diversity agenda, and of course there is a few other things considered before they can give funding, one you must be a good cooperate citizen, must have tax clearance certificate and also, you must have systems to manage the funds that they give you. The application forms are available on their website

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