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Big Tech to Bail Out Blackout South Africa


Big Tech’s Grubby Hand in South Africa’s Media Meltdown

The Competition Commission is secretly cooking up a plan to force Big Tech giants like Meta and Google to prop up South Africa’s struggling media houses. Yes, you read that right – the very same tech behemoths that are already suffocating local media with their algorithms and ad dominance are about to be handed the reins to dictate the fate of our beloved press.

Behind closed doors, the commission is concocting a fund that would rely on the very companies responsible for the media’s decline to fork over cash to struggling publications. It’s a brazen attempt to prop up the status quo, ensuring that the same old players continue to dominate the landscape while new and innovative voices are left to wither on the vine.

But what’s the real motive behind this proposal? Is it genuinely aimed at saving the Fourth Estate, or is it simply a way for Big Tech to exert even more control over the narrative? The answers, much like the commission’s plans, remain shrouded in secrecy.

Meanwhile, the media landscape continues to crumble. Media24, once the country’s largest media house, is on the brink of collapse, with reports of mass layoffs and the shutdown of print publications. The writing is on the wall – the business model is unsustainable, and the industry is on life support.

And yet, the commission seems hell-bent on perpetuating this status quo, rather than seeking innovative solutions that would truly benefit the industry. It’s a case of putting the cart before the horse, or in this case, the algorithm before the newsroom.

The media freedom coalition’s report on Australia’s NMBC, which the commission is using as a model, paints a stark picture of how this kind of legislation can skew the playing field in favour of the already powerful. Smaller and newer publications are left to fight tooth and nail for scraps, while the giants continue to reap the benefits.

The real question is: what’s the endgame here? Is it truly about saving the media, or is it about ensuring that Big Tech remains the dominant force in shaping the narrative? The answers, much like the commission’s plans, remain shrouded in secrecy.



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