Transformation of South Africa’s creative industry has been slow, and control of the industry remains in minority hands, affecting the country’s culture and heritage.
“While South Africa is endowed with talent in the cultural and creative industries, the level of development of each of the specific industries is uneven,” notes the African National Congress (ANC) in the Social Transformation discussion document.
The document will be scrutinized at the ANC’s fifth national policy conference taking place at the Nasrec Expo Centre in Johannesburg from 30 June – 5 July 2017.
“The majority of employees are black, with a high percentage of black managers but inadequate levels of black ownership”
The discussion document notes the uneven scale in SA’s creative industries, low levels of business skills and poor knowledge on intellectual property “with bias towards the supply side of creation and production rather than the demand side of distribution of content and market reach”.
This has affected ownership of content as black people largely remain employees in the creative industry while ownership remains in white hands.
“The majority of employees are black, with a high percentage of black managers, but inadequate levels of black ownership,” notes the ANC in the document.
To remedy the situation, the party suggests an establishment of legislature that will protect ‘cultural workers’.
A study by Unisa’s Prof George Angelopulo released in 2016 notes how media concentration in South Africa is amongst the highest in the world.
The study also notes how Telkom, SABC, Vodacom, MTN and Naspers dominate ownership of the South African media.
The companies are responsible for content generation and distribution of a variety of media consumed by South Africans.
“To merely say that there’s a direct link between ownership and production of better local content, that’s going to drive and inspire South African creative industries, doesn’t really tell you what the facts are on a range of local parameters,” says Media Monitoring Africa Director William Bird.
“We know that a huge number of our very famous artists have died in poverty. One of the reasons is that they got a raw deal when they signed onto their contracts,” says Bird
“The issues of intellectual property is a critical one. The SABC was in a position to lead that,” says Bird.
He says the public broadcaster has a critical role to play in issues relating to intellectual property in the creative industry.
“Usually, it’s been the driving force as you would see in countries around the world. That’s what a public broadcaster does,” he says.
– By Matiba Sibanyoni