Thanks to the Covid-19 lockdown having devastating effects on advertising and circulation, Media24 will start consultations with staff regarding the closure of five magazines and two newspapers.
Print media has struggled with advertising and circulation for several years already. The final nail in the coffin for many publishers in South Africa has been the Covid-19 pandemic.
The industry has already seen the closure of Association Media Publishing and their titles, including Cosmopolitan, Women on Wheels, and House and Leisure during the lockdown. Caxton & CTP Publishers & Printers have also announced that they will be ceasing their magazine publishing division. Just two of their publications, Living & Loving and Farmer's Weekly, will survive and move into other divisions.
It's no surprise then that Media24 has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic too. According to a statement released on Tuesday, Media24 CEO, Ishmet Davidson said, "The pandemic has accelerated the pre-existing and long-term structural decline in print media, resulting in a devastating impact on our own already fragile print media operations with significant declines in both circulation and advertising since April.
"For many of our print titles, the benefits of prior interventions to offset the structural declines and keep them on the shelf no longer exist and they’ve run out of options in this regard."
The magazine titles that are affected include the closure of Move!, and Hearst's portfolio of Men's Health, Women's Health, Bicycling and Runners World. DRUM will stop its printed publication and go digital-only.
Parenting titles Baba & Kleiter and Your Pregnancy might be licenced to editor Helen Schöer and be published independently. The editorial production of the remaining monthly titles will be outsourced. This includes Fairlady, SARIE, SA Hunter/Jagter, True Love, tuis/home, Weg!/go! and Weg! Ry & Sleep/go! Drive & Camp, as well as the fortnightly Kuier. The frequency of these publications will be reduced from 12 to six per year, while SA Hunter/Jagter and tuis/home will see eight publications a year with Man Magnum.
On the newspaper front, Son op Sondag, Sunday Sun and the Eastern Cape edition of Son will be shut down, and Volksblad and Die Burger Oos-Kaap will become weekday-only digital editions.
Four Kwazulu-Natal community newspapers will get the chop too, including Amanzimtoti Fever, East Griqualand Fever, Hillcrest Fever and Maritzburg Fever.
The Noordkaap and Kalahari Bulletin will be merged into one, titled the Noordkaap Bulletin, while Kroonnuus and Vrystaat Nuus will become Vrystaat Kroonnuus, and Theewaterskloof Gazette will be merged into Hermanus Times. The current move to digital for The Witness will be accelerated.
These moves will affect around 510 of Media24's 2,971 staff members and have proposed reducing their personnel by 660 in total. They are also reducing staff in media distribution, divisional and corporate services.
Davidson said, “We are fully committed to managing this highly sensitive consultation with compassion while following the process as prescribed by law. Unfortunately, we cannot share any further details until the process has been concluded.”