World Media 2007: South Africa

Years of steady growth cannot disguise South Africa's deep troubles. High unemployment, high levels of HIV/Aids infection and rising poverty mean the nation still has a long way to go.

South Africa has charted a course of relative wealth and stability in a continent beset by corruption, disease, war and famine. Since apartheid collapsed in the early 90s and the African National Congress came to power in 1994, business and investor confidence in the country have increased. But the underlying problems of poverty and inequality are not going away any time soon.

South Africa's economy has been growing steadily since 2000. The country has seen 87 straight months of growth, with low budget deficits, low inflation and soaring house prices.

But, despite economic growth and the emergence of a new, black middle class, unemployment in the 47 million population remains around 27 per cent. It has one of the highest HIV/Aids rates in the world and there are also signs that the number of people on the poverty line may be rising.

Thabo Mbeki, the country's president, has spoken of the gaping divide between South Africa's "first economy" and "second economy". In 2006, he launched the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative with long-term aims to raise the growth rate to 6 per cent by 2010 and to halve unemployment and poverty by 2014.

Mbeki plans to boost growth by driving inward investment. Meanwhile, foreign investors are bringing in the cash. Barclays has just bought its way back into South Africa with the $4.5 billion purchase of a majority stakeholding in Absabank, the country's biggest retail lender; Vodafone has recently invested heavily in Vodacom, a South African mobile operator.

The telecoms sector is growing fast. Mobile telephony is now worth $25 billion across Africa and the Middle East, although fewer than 15 per cent of Africans have mobile phones.

Online is also leaping ahead. It took South Africa's online publishing industry nine years to 2003 to reach the 60 million-rand mark, but that has trebled in the three years to 2006.

Television is broadcast in all 11 official languages, with MNet and the state broadcaster SABC also broadcasting across Africa. Although TV was not permitted until the 70s, a broad range of channels is now available. Al Jazeera International and CNBC Africa have plans to set up in South Africa.

It has to be hoped that the country's skills shortage, corruption and inefficiency at a local level will not hold back its future development. Meanwhile, the next big test for South African infrastructure will be hosting the football World Cup in 2010.

USdollars million at current prices. All years based on US$1 =
Rand 6.36 *Estimated
Total News- Maga- TV Radio Cinema Out- Online
papers zines door
2000 1,396 389 192 561 192 11 51 0
2001 1,517 396 201 652 190 10 60 8
2002 1,811 489 227 782 226 12 67 7
2003 2,054 539 236 906 269 14 81 8
2004 2,414 619 254 1,096 304 31 93 18
2005 2,685 693 279 1,227 334 32 100 19
2006 2,989 794 307 1,368 359 35 107 20
2007* 3,326 870 338 1,539 405 37 117 21
2008* 3,659 962 366 1,690 450 40 124 26
2009* 4,009 1,076 400 1,837 496 44 128 29

Adspend notes 1) Includes agency commission (16.5 per cent). 2) Excludes
production costs. 3) Excludes classified advertising. 4) Before

Newspaper: Daily Sun (daily, 235,000 copies) (2006)
Business magazine: Financial Mail (weekly, 28,000 copies) (2006)
Consumer magazine: Huisgenoot (weekly, 342,000 copies) (2006)
Most-watched TV show: Not supplied
Best new TV format: The Cut South Africa
Circulation: Audit Bureau of Circulations
Readership: South African Advertising Research Foundation (AMPS)
TV viewing: South African Research Foundation (AMPS)
Newspapers: Media 24, Independent Group
Magazines: Media 24, Crown Publications


- Media topic du jour

The launch of a new pay-TV station early in 2008. The telephone operator Telkom is among the 18 companies bidding for a broadcast licence. The launch will break the ten-year monopoly of media multinational Naspers' DSTV brand.

- Reigning media guru and why

Pete Langschmidt has taken on the mantel of research guru in a country where research is still patchy.

- Media mogul to be seen dining with and why

Now Oprah Winfrey has discovered she's a Zulu, her fondness for South Africa makes perfect sense.

- Car to drive: Toyota LandCruiser.

- Phone to carry: LG Chocolate.

- Whatever you do, don't say: Can I have an overnight viewing figure?


FCB Cape Town came up with this humorous campaign for Distell's Klipdrift brandy, using local culture and languages. It was craftily adapted for separate media environments, with specially designed ads for one sort of magazine versus another. The website took you round the house featured in the TV ad, and featured links to information about the brand.